Irish writer and blogger, Nicola Cassidy, writes beautiful historical fiction. I remember reading December Girl when it was released in October 2017 and devouring it, so I was really looking forward to her second offering this year. I don’t think it breaches any spoilers to say that I was not disappointed in any way by The Nanny at Number 43. I’ve received a copy for my Kindle to review (thank you very much, Poolbeg), and got through it in two nights – not wanting to put it down. Here’s my review of The Nanny At Number 43.
So, what is the book about?
From the blurb:
Wanted, a respectable woman to care for a motherless child.
When William D. Thomas’s wife dies in childbirth, he places an advertisement in his local newspaper seeking a nanny for his newborn child.
He is thankful when an experienced nanny arrives at 43 Laurence Street and takes over from his frazzled housekeeper Mrs McHugh.
Mrs McHugh confides in her bedridden friend Betty, who has a bird’s-eye view of all the happenings on Laurence Street, that the Nanny is not all she seems. Betty begins her own investigation into the mysterious woman.
When the bodies of twin babies are discovered buried in a back garden, by a family who have moved from their tenement home into a country cottage, a police investigation begins.
But it is Betty who holds the key to discovering who the Nanny really is … and the reason she came to 43 Laurence Street.
If you’re hoping for a Mary Poppins style tale, you’re in for a bit of a shock, this Nanny certainly doesn’t simply use a spoonful of sugar…. it’s more The Hand That Rocks The Cradle than a Disney telling of the Nanny who comes to the rescue of a grieving widower and his tiny baby. Mrs McHugh seems to be the only one seeing that all is not right with this young lady who just turned up one day and entered all their lives – but will she (and Betty) be able to figure out what exactly is going on?
So, What Did I Think?
I absolutely loved the use of language and description in this novel – Nicola Cassidy writes so beautifully, it was just gorgeous to read. The descriptions definitely made it easier to go back in time to Drogheda in the late 1880s.
While there are a lot of characters, and it did take me some time to get the hang of who was who, and see the links between the people, it made for a much more interesting story. There’s not just one reason for everything, and throughout it, I found myself conflicted about the motivations of many of the characters and seeing if things were happening as a result of something else happening, or if it was just an act of a person who knew what they were doing. (It is very hard to give any more information without spoiling anything, and that’s the last thing I’d want to do – so go pick up a copy and you’ll see what I mean!).
The characters were well fleshed out and the plot made sense, which is always essential, especially in a time period that I’m not completely familiar with. The use of local dialects – “had a goo on him” was a favourite – really did make it feel like a realistic account!
I cannot wait to see what Nicola Cassidy has to come in the future, and I really look forward to picking up her next work of art!