This nanny is no Mary Poppins – she’s pure evil behind a facade of calm control! Based in the late 1800’s this is a slow-burner of a crime thriller with a dark edge and a feeling of unease throughout.
It opens with the gruesome discovery of a suitcase containing the bodies of twin babies, buried on the land of a man who’s moved his family from their dingy tenement life out to a cottage in the countryside. This isn’t quite the fresh new start they’d envisaged.
We then move to a gentrified area of Drogheda where William Thompson’s wife has died in childbirth and he and his long-term housekeeper, Winnie McHugh are struggling to keep things together, running the household while looking after a newborn. He advertises for a nanny and is relieved when on arrives, complete with suitable references. However, Mrs McHugh isn’t quite convinced and from day one, she senses that something isn’t quite right about the new addition to their home. She confides in her friend Betty who’s bedridden but whose window overlooks their entire street where she watches the everyday comings and goings, writing everything down in her journals.
As the story unravels, we learn about the Nanny’s undesirable, rocky past, first with an uncaring, never-present mother and then in the workhouse, where she begins her relationship with bad-boy Christy, now in prison. It does jump around a bit and at times it’s a tad confusing – especially when you’re racing through, anxious to figure out what’s going to happen next – but that’s exactly where I the author wants her audience to be because basically, by this point we’re eating out of the palm of her hand!
Cassidy’s characterisation is thorough and true to the era, as are her descriptions of the different class distinctions, from the dark, dreary workhouse and the lives of the unfortunate orphans and others who land up there, to the horse-drawn carriages and drawing rooms of the upper classes like the snooty Winchesters. Her writing is evocative and she’s chosen to set it in a time and place that she’s clearly familiar with, gently drawing the reader in and wrapping them in a blanket of prickly discomfort!
This is a highly recommended 5-star read!
Nicola Cassidy is a writer and blogger from Co. Louth, Ireland.
She started her writing career early, entering short story competitions as a child and became an avid reader.
Encouraged by her English teachers, she chose to study journalism at Dublin City University and while working in political PR and marketing, studied a series of advanced creative writing courses at the Irish Writers’ Centre.
Later she set up a lifestyle and literary blog http://www.ladynicci.com/, which was shortlisted in the Ireland Blog Awards in 2015 and 2016 and finalist in 2017 and 2018.
She signed with Trace Literary Agency in 2016.
December Girl is Nicola’s debut historical fiction novel and is set in the mystical and ancient Boyne Valley, Co. Meath, famed for its stone age passage tombs. Elements of the story are inspired by true events.
Her second novel The Nanny at Number 43 is published by Poolbeg Press.
She lives with her husband and two young daughters in Termonfeckin, Co. Louth.
Many thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me along for this one. Although the tour is reaching the end, take a look at what other bloggers had to say about The Nanny at Number 43 …