Review: The Secrets of Wishtide: A Laetitia Rodd Mystery, by Kate Saunders. Bloomsbury USA.


In 1850 England, the widowed Laetitia Rodd lives in genteel but straitened circumstances. Letty’s particular talents are utilized from time to time by her brother Frederick, a criminal barrister of high repute. As the story opens, Frederick has found a new assignment for his sister. It seems that Charles, son of Sir James Calderstone, is set on making a marriage that his father finds highly unsuitable. Laetitia’s job is to join the household of Sir James, posing as the new governess for the two Calderstone daughters. Her assignment is to find out the truth about the background of young Charles’ intended without attracting attention.


Laetitia soon finds her job not as straightforward as was represented. We move through the story with her, discovering more pieces of what soon appears to be a puzzle, or at least something a good deal more complex than was first assumed. Before long, events take a tragic turn, and the tragedy and loss deepens as we and Letty go forward.


This is an intriguing story, tantalizingly told. There is a rich cast of characters, and the threads of their stories are woven into an intricate tapestry of circumstances and events. Letty is stalwart, conscientious, caring and brave–an altogether admirable heroine of a fascinating tale.


At the end of the book is an Afterword that might well have been a Foreword–but perhaps that would have given away too much too soon. Far be it to me to be a spoiler; sufficient to say that Ms. Saunders story grew out of her fondness for Victorian fiction, and drew inspiration from the pages of David Copperfield. Mr. Dickens would be pleased, I think.

My sincere appreciation to author, publisher, and NetGalley for making an advance copy of this fine book available for me to read and review.

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