Bailey has given her readers a veritable cornucopia of ideas and well-researched facts set in the England of the mid 1750s. The author has painted a picture of another era with all the problems, ideas, dirt and filth present in that day and age.
Tabitha Hart has left her home in the town of Netherlea to seek her fortune in London. There she made a passable living as a lady of the street until her mother sends her a message to return home because she is dying. When Tabitha reaches her mother’s house she finds that the lady has already passed away and under mysterious circumstances. She finds and opens her mother’s almanack, which at that point in time is a book that many people rich and poor buy each year to help them with their year-round planning.
As an aid to finding out what happened, the author has prefaced every chapter with a riddle taken from almanacks of the time as well as a daily message advising what is expected to happen each of the days. This practice opens up additional customs of the era under discussion as well as providing an idea of how people thought and behaved.
The novel is indeed a vibrant picture of another time and makes it possible for today’s readers to allow themselves to slip into that era and enjoy an interesting read.
12/19 Paul Lane
THE ALMANACK by Martine Bailey. Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition (May 1, 2019). ISBN 978-0727888631. 304p.