My True Companion (by Sally Quilford)

I’ve been following Sally Quilford’s blog for some years now, and have enjoyed reading a few of her novellas (originally published as pocket novels) when she releases them inexpensively in Kindle form.

‘My True Companion’ was a recent Kindle addition, with the added bonus that it was free for a few days. Novellas of this kind are fairly short, and I had a couple of hours today when I wanted something light - so I read this book in that time, and enjoyed it.

The setting is a stately home in England in 1921. Millie is the heroine; a young impoverished woman whose father was recently executed as a spy. She is convinced he was innocent, but many of her former friends have turned away from her. So she has taken a post as companion to the rather controlling widow Mrs Oakengate. We meet them as they arrive at Fazeby Hall for a house-party.

There are quite a few other characters introduced fairly rapidly, and I found the number a bit overwhelming; it was hard to work out which ones were going to be significant. As well as the host and hostess, there’s a foreign Count, a young couple who seem to bicker continually, a novelist, and an older man who is Millie’s godfather. I had no idea what genre this book would be, other than historical fiction, but it was fairly quickly established that it was a light thriller - crime fiction with a romantic element. Had I seen the pocket book, that would probably have been clear from the start.

The plot has quite a few twists, some of which I was expecting, and some of which surprised me. The writing is fairly fast-paced with almost no description; this is probably inevitable in such a short book, but is generally my preference anyway. I’m not a huge fan of thrillers, but there wasn’t any unpleasant suspense; likewise the romantic element is very low-key, suitable for the era (and the audience of the original pocket book).

The story, touches on issues of political intrigue, snobbery and class consciousness, and while it’s not long enough to have a great deal of depth, it made an enjoyable break in my day. Recommended if you like this kind of book and would like something rather shorter than a standard novel.

Note that this was published in large print form after the pocket book version; this is the version which the US link shows. It's often better value for the Kindle, however; shown in the UK link. If you buy it as an e-book, make sure you order from the Amazon site where your Kindle is registered.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 8th September 2012


Sally Quilford said...

Thank you so much for your review, Sue. They're always so balanced and it's great to see someone interacting so intelligently with my work!

womagwriter said...

Great review - this one is sitting on my Kindle waiting to be read, and I'm looking forward to it very much.