Watch the Wall, my Darling (by Jane Aiken Hodge)

I do like Jane Aiken Hodge's novels, both her historical ones and her more contemporary novels set in the mid-20th century. Unfortunately most of her work is out of print these days, although her novels can sometimes be found second-hand.

I bought 'Watch the Wall, my Darling' nearly thirty years ago, for a few pence from a church fete. I read it then, and again in 1986. But for some reason I didn't pick it up again until recently.

I had entirely forgotten what it was about, other than that it was something to do with smuggling. But that was because of the title, half of the line, 'Watch the Wall, my Darling, while the Gentlemen go by' - a phrase apparently used to encourage people to turn a blind eye to the rampant smuggling that went on in previous centuries.

This story is about Christina Tretton, a courageous and intelligent young woman who was brought up in the USA. After the death of her father, she returns to her family home in Sussex, during the time of the Napoleonic wars.

Christina is caught up immediately in intrigue and danger, involving smuggling and more; she finds herself attracted to her cousin Ross, yet not sure how far she can trust him. She also has to deal with a crusty old grandfather, her rather foppish cousin Richard, and Ross's fussy and not very bright mother.

It was an exciting story, with believable people whom I quickly cared about. Great for general social history too, and understanding a little more about this period in history, although the fictional subplots are the most significant in the book.

Recommended to anyone who likes light historical novels, if you can find it second-hand or in your library.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 18th December 2008

1 comment:

Wendy La Capra said...

I, too, bought this book 2nd hand in the 80's. It remains one of my favorites. I thought it had the best first line: "Damnation!" The voice was a gentleman's.

What other book starts with the heroine biting the hero's hand? Classic!