352 pages ~ ★★★★☆ ~ Netgalley eARC
On the face of it a Victorian romance, dig a little deeper and The Lady and The Highwayman actually explores the much more involved topic of the education and treatment of poorer children at the time, which I wasn’t expecting this from a historical romance. Having come from nothing himself Fletcher Walker, author and member of Dread Penny Society are determined to save as many children as they can falling into hands of those who would abuse their innocence and ability to be forgotten under the pretence of being a collective of authors.
Through a mutual friend Walker meets Elizabeth Black, headteacher and author, well known for her books which are considered more ‘silver fork’ than his own Penny Dreadful volumes; however Elizabeth is publishing new work under the pseudonym of Mr King who is quickly becoming an extremely popular Penny Dreadful author due to both his writing and the mystery surrounding his identity. Fletcher’s becomes enamoured by Elizabeth and her desire to help aid the education of the poor as well as determined to unmask the elusive Mr King. The narrative is broken up with volumes of Fletcher and Elizabeth’s Penny Dreadfuls and I loved how the plots of the of their stories mirrored their own lives and feelings; particularly one released following am encounter between Elizabeth and Fletcher’s encounters which left Elizabeth feeling slightly snubbed and with no other way to express her annoyance that it write Fletcher into her narrative.
I ended up really enjoying this, particularly how the plots of the short Penny Dreadfuls mirrored the characters own lives and feelings. This has got me wanting to give a lot more historical fiction a go and I think I’m going to start with The Muse by Jessie Burton which I started as part of my recent Try a Chapter post.
I read this over the summer to get this review written up before its release but I think this would make a great autumnal read, I can’t exactly put my finger on why, it just gave me big blanket and candle evening read feels. You can pre-order The Lady and The Highwayman (affiliate link) for its UK release on 3rd September, thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with a copy this in exchange for an honest review.