I had never before heard of the author Grace Livingston Hill. I came across a large number of her books in a Christian library, and thought the blurb on the back sounded interesting. They were evidently light romances with a Christian message.
'The White Lady' is set in the 1920s, written in the 1930s so not really a historical novel as such, but based on the author's own memories and experiences of life. It features Constance Wetherill, a society heiress in New York, who suddenly hears that she has lost her fortune due to faulty investments. However she is left with $5000, which must have been quite a significant amount of money nearly ninety years ago.
Constance, who's quite a strong-minded and independent young lady, decides to close her house. She travels for a while, and then rents a smaller place in the country, which is supposedly haunted. In order to make her living she opens a genteel tea-house with the aid of her devoted maid Norah and a delightful twelve-year-old boy called Jimmy, whom she meets by chance when he helps her to carry her luggage from the station.
Constance struggles while dealing with the practicalities of daily life without an army of servants, but learns to cope, and also discovers who her real friends are.
The book contains a measure of suffering, significant culture shock as Constance adjusts to her new life, a great deal of bravery, and a pleasant - if predictable - conclusion.
There's a bit too much authorial comment and explanation in places, but that's partly the style of the times. The Christian message is clearly there, particularly with the very pleasant young minister Constance meets, but I didn't feel it was preachy or over-done.
All in all, not much substance but an enjoyable light read. Out of print for many years, but sometimes available second-hand - better to buy in the USA than UK.