Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

This is my second book for the Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge! I’m doing rather well, if I say so myself as I’m now reading my third book for the challenge, A Grave Man by David Roberts, which is also from my TBR shelf. Way to go!

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen is a clever romp through interwar Britain with a plucky and likeable protagonist, Lady Georgie, who is half royal on her father’s side (Queen Victoria is grandmama) and half working class on her mother’s side (actress/bolter and granddad is a former copper). An interesting combination which gives Rhys Bowen a license to talk about the various aspects of British life and culture in the 1930s.

Lady Georgie is 34th in line to the throne and living with her step-brother in his Highland castle. As she is of marriageable age, her family are trying to marry her off to some suitably obscure royal but she has other ideas. She goes to London to try her hand at independant living, learning how to light fires and make toast. When she finds a dead body in the bath and her family is implicated, she must learn to uncover who is trying to bring them down and, more importantly, stay alive. On top of that, she has been assigned a task by her grandmother, Queen Victoria, and is sent off to a house party in the country to spy on her son who is besotted with a certain married American lady.

Her Royal Spyness is not too dark and was actually quite funny. I loved Bowen’s description of Georgie’s step-brother’s Scottish castle with draughty bathrooms and tartan wallpaper. Hilarious. The only thing that jarred was Georgie’s awareness of the poor, unemployed and disenfranchised, queuing at the soup kitchens. Would she really have noticed? But then she comes from a mixed class background and would be aware of the differences even within her own family. But that’s a small quibble in what was an enjoyable read. This is the first book in a series, so I’m looking forward to reading more about Lady Georgie and her antics.

It rather drew a comparison to Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day which I loved, but which was much darker and wasn’t a mystery. I’ve only seen the film but plan to read the book one of these days.