Jane Freemont, Lord Andrew, Mary Hale
The Secret of Ravelston is the historical murder mystery novel by Sergio Silveira. Based in Northern England during the nineteenth century, the novel tells the tale of Jane Freemont, a young upper-middle class woman living in Wallingsford in the South of England. Jane is a modern woman for the nineteenth century, always questioning her superiors and giving her honest opinions at rather inappropriate times. However Jane is unfortunate. Her attitude is not so welcome in her home town of Wallingsford where Jane’s forward thinking (and an embarrassing mistake!) get her exiled from the town. Her brother, the town’s Pastor has only one option, to send Jane to live with their Uncle in Ravelston.
Jane is distraught at the thought of living in Ravelston. It is so far in the North, surrounded by wilderness and has no social life what-so-ever! She will never find a husband and have nothing to do in the boring, small town. But when she arrives, Jane soon finds that Ravelston is not the sleepy, rural town she expected it to be, but it has a dark secret which neither the town’s rich or poor are willing to share!
The townspeople seem to be unusually quiet about the disappearance of a young servant girl called Mary Hale. The rich of the town are unconcerned with Mary’s disappearance because she was poor and therefore unimportant; claiming that she will have found work elsewhere. Jane knows that Mary can’t have just left because all of her possessions are still in her old room. When Jane tries to ask Mary’s old colleges why she left and where she went to, they state that they don’t know and are too scared to tell Jane the truth because they will lose their jobs, the only thing that keeps them from the streets. Jane becomes obsessed with the disappearance of Mary and uncovers a love affair which could never be allowed between Mary and a wealthy local noble. Whilst uncovering the true secret of the town which could destroy the richest family there, the Ravelstons.
I really enjoyed this book. I think it was made that much better because of my conversations with the book's author Sergio Silveira. Sergio is actually a native of Brazil and grew up there during the 1960’s when the rural Brazilian society was similar to the English society of the nineteenth century. A society where the rich became richer off the back of the hard work the poor did in their fields. A society where the poor servants were not considered important and where made to work for a pittance so the rich could enjoy their luxury. It is really interesting to see some of Sergio’s own experience come through in the book and even more interesting/amazing/terrifying that these societies were still in existence fifty years ago and in some places still exist today!
The book itself was great. At first I didn’t think I was going to like the character of Jane. She was the typical spoilt, middle-class girl at the start of the book; only considered about how the situation could benefit her advancement in society. However when she realises the errors of her ways and how lucky she is, she becomes much more considerate towards other people and with her outspoken manner, asks the questions of why rich people are rich and poor people are poor. She was also funny which I really liked!
I found the mystery of Mary Hale very gripping but I did find the reason for her disappearance a bit disappointing. I thought something really, really bad had happened to her, but with only twenty pages left I was thinking ‘come on, come on, what gruesome fate awaited her?’ Whereas what really happened to her is rounded up within the last couple of pages and is very timid compared to what I thought was going to have happened and for me, this made the ending seem a little rushed!
Nevertheless this was still a thrilling read with a little more substance than the average murder mystery novel. I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of authors such as C.J. Sansom and his Shardlake series. If you would like to purchase this book it is available for Amazon Kindle at Amazon.co.uk or in other eBooks from B&N.com.
I’d like to say a massive thank you to Sergio Silveira for getting in touch and introducing me to his work. Thanks Sergio!
For author’s goodreads page click here.
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