The world seems to regard this as the same thing as honor, but I do not." --Sarah Tolerance, Point of Honour For most serious readers, any mention of the Regency period immediately conjures the thought of Jane Austen, who introduced so many of us to it, and directly or indirectly influenced just about every later writer who employed that setting. Robins is one of them; she calls her predecessor "one of the sharpest, funniest writers in the English language," and tips a hat to her with the opening sentence here: "It is a truth universally acknowledged...." But the rest of the sentence, like the Goodreads description above, lets us know immediately that her picture of the Regency world encompasses a much broader and darker canvas than Austen's: this is not only a world of aristocrats and landed gentry, but of harlots and bawds, pickpockets and Bow Street Runners, and a world where sinister things can go on. And where Austen's heroines might push the envelope of social conventions a bit (Lizzie Bennett, for instance, is smarter and more outspoken than many males then --or now-- are really comfortable with), Robins' Sarah Tolerance will outright defy them. :-) (Though I like to think that if Lizzie and Sarah ever sat down and got really acquainted over a pot of tea, they'd wind up as fast friends!) This book is a bit of a challenge to classify, as suggested by the several shelves I put it on. Her style is pitch-perfect for the setting, with a bit of a 19th-century flavor that's not exactly like the original, but still lets you know you aren't reading something dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, nor limited to a 200-word vocabulary.
There were some really fun parts for sure, and the mystery was definitely interesting, but I couldn't buy into it 100% all the time. I would recommend this book for someone who enjoys a light mystery read with a strong lady protagonist, doesn't really care about historical accuracies persay, but likes a dash of period flare with their escapism.
This is the first of the Sarah Tolerance mysteries. If anything Sarah the leading character, was what kept me reading. A not to miss book for fans of a "Jane Austen style" with a dash of romance, mystery and suspense.
Indeed, categorizing the book is difficult because at heart it is a mystery novel but with an alternate-historical twist. The book begins with her career just starting to gain enough momentum to feel like she may make a success of it, after all. So I liked it as a fair mystery novel in a setting I enjoy.
Sarah ekes out her living as a private investigator of sorts, with clients who are primarily women in search of discreet inquiries. The mystery of the fan and the many twists and turns that Sarah follows through various layers of English society take the reader on a fascinating journey. It would be hard to read a book like this and then dive into a Regency romp featuring a heroine who wants to have a fling just for fun(or rebellion.) Sarah's life as a fallen woman in this society is not easy, but the ways in which she maneuvers through the rules of her world garners respect.
Instead of taking up prostitution, as had her aunt, who gives her a home, Sarah becomes an agent of inquiry, and has a modest business going when a young, supercilious lord comes to her with the prospect of a job, on behalf of someone else. Highwaymen, whores, lords, dashing battles, and of course the Prince Regent all occur in this wonderfully paced, wryly and well told tale.
Our Heroine is Sarah Tolerance, called Miss Tolerance throughout the book, a woman whose reputation has been ruined, and is therefore fit, according to society, for nothing but exchanging sex for money and a man's protection. Miss Tolerance, however, sets herself up as an 'investigative agent', relying on her wits, her discretion, and her short-sword to earn her living in the world, even though she faces pressure from everyone, men and women, to succumb to the pull of society's expectations.
I loved the protagonist in this story, Sarah Tolerance, and she is definitely a worthy character for the Action Heroine Fans to admire! You would think a family member and a female to boot would have made her the one solid gold ally in Sarah's world.
Imagine a Regency detective novel with a 'fallen woman' (Think Lydia Bennet if they hadn't paid Wickham to marry her.) as the private investigator. Imagine a Regency detective novel, with a 'fallen woman' private investigator who is physically courageous and well trained with a sword!
I like a Regency setting, and I dont even mind if the history has been altered a little; for instance, in this story Queen Charlotte is serving as regent for her husband the mad king, rather than the Prince of Wales.
Born in New York City, the Author has been, in no particular order, a nanny, a teacher, an actor and stage-combatant, an administrator, a comic book editor, a baker, typist-clerk for Thos.