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A Breach of Promise (William Monk Novels) (original 1997; edition 1998)

by Anne Perry

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Title:A Breach of Promise (William Monk Novels)
Authors:Anne Perry
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A Breach of Promise by Anne Perry (1997)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
A Victorian Mystery that is so compelling that it was impossible to put down. I read it in one afternoon. Some non Victorian attitudes about women and leaps of faith in some of the subplots, but it worked. ( )
  jamespurcell | Mar 14, 2014 |
This is a quite interesting story based on beauty and appearance. There are several stories within this book: the disfigurement and loss of an arm of an English soldier during the uprisings in India, two deaf and facially disfigured orphaned sisters, and the superb beauty of a young lady. The breach of promise begins a trial that has Sir Oliver Rathbone at a loss as to how to defend his client. The story takes many twists and turns that would ruin the fun for the next reader. The story points to the problems of women during this time in England's history. Hester Latterly defies tradition and shines as a woman dependant on no man. But this defiance carries a dear price. I am anxious to read the next novel of this series. Usually an author seems to become mundane as a series progresses, but Perry seems to improve with each story. ( )
  delphimo | Jul 19, 2011 |
I did not expect to like this book as well as I did. I chose it for a bit of
fast read fun. It has also been a while since I took on anything Victorian.
The books begins with a young man who was a gifted archetect, Killian Melville,
seeks out Barrister Sir Oliver Rathbone, to defend him in court against the charge of Breach of Promise.
The defense is that Killian has never actually asked for the hand of Zillah, a beautiful
young lady, in marriage. That he knew that marriage plans were being made but that
he never thought it was his own wedding being discussed.

Rathbone was at first disinclined to take the case. He simply thought Melville was a fool and a cad!
Something though, convinced him. Something about the honesty of the way Melville presented himself
convinced the Barrister to defend him. Thinking that the odds of winning this case were slim to none,
Rathbone asks his long time friend and investigator William Monk to aide in the endeavor.

But this is not the only story. Gabriel Lambert was wounded badly and in fact disfigured in the war in India.
Hester Latterly, a friend of both the Barrister and the Investigator is a woman who served valiantly in the Crimea n
War, has been asked to be a live in nurse and caregiver for Lambert. His young wife Perdita is distraught and frightened and has no skill in caring for someone with injuries, and needs such as her husband has
brought home with him.

This is a ripping good story, a mystery whose solution will have you leaping out of your comfy chair
and shouting you cannot mean it! And the back story is of how women were thought to be nothing
more than ornamental, and unable to learn or accomplish anything more than keeping a home and their men happy. I really liked this one. I will certainly read more in this series. ( )
2 vote mckait | May 30, 2011 |
Most of the plot twists in this mystery were pretty obvious, but I enjoyed it anyway. I don't always mind knowing the solution in advance; it is interesting to see how the author gets us there. (And I think, after a certain number of mysteries read, it gets harder and harder for an author to truly surprise the reader.)

My one criticism is that, somehow, all 3 main characters in this novel have quite modern sensibilities when it comes to gender and homosexuality. Yes, it makes them easier to like, but I can't quite escape the feeling that it's not particularly realistic. I know; I know - I'm not usually much on reading books with protagonists I don't like either. It's always an issue with period books. I'm not complaining, exactly, but I really couldn't escape the feeling that it was awfully unlikely.

I also felt that the ending was curiously incomplete; it felt as though there were more story to tell, but the book just stops and I'm not sure why. All right, you've found the evidence, but now what? I guess we're just supposed to assume, but in the case given in the book, I found that inadequate. I'd like to know what happened. ( )
  moontyger | May 26, 2011 |
A brilliant woman architect, disguised as a man, finds herself engaged to another woman... I think that any other author would have made that plot a comedy, but I didn't even think of laughing until I read that summary.The subplot with the deformed children was also nicely handled, and dovetailed well with the main one - perhaps a bit too coincidental, but mysteries often are.How did Dolly lean so much about poisons? ( )
  krisiti | Jul 1, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anne Perryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Folch, BorjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffini, Grazia MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hardiman, TerrenceNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Link, MichaelaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Oliver Rathbone leaned back in his chair and let out a sigh of satisfaction.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0804118558, Mass Market Paperback)

The promises that are breached, broken, and never born in Anne Perry's rich and resonant new William Monk mystery all have to do with the roles and positions of women in Victorian society. At the center of the book is a rousing courtroom drama, as young Zillah Lambert--daughter of a wealthy, well-meaning northern businessman and his socially ambitious wife--sues an immensely gifted architect, Killian Melville. Melville, Zillah argues, failed to live up to his promise of marriage and thereby ruined her chances of making any sort of acceptable match. Private detective Monk is brought into the case by lawyer Oliver Rathbone when his client (Melville), facing financial and social ruin, still refuses to offer any reason for his dastardly conduct.

Monk's attentions are occupied elsewhere, too. Hester Latterly, the courageous nurse who worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War, and whose favors Monk and Rathbone both desire, is looking after a British officer, Gabriel Sheldon, who was badly wounded and disfigured in India. Gabriel's wife, Perdita, is having trouble adjusting to her husband's broken body and spirit. "It was not Perdita's fault that she was confused and frightened," Monk muses. "She had been protected all her short life. She had not chosen to be, it was her assigned role." Monk has also promised a housemaid in the Sheldons' service that he will look for her two little nieces--deaf and deformed from birth--who were abandoned by their mother almost 20 years before. As the cases tangle and combine (perhaps a tad too coincidentally for some tastes, but, then again, real life is full of coincidences), Perry manages to show us the many ways in which women were made to pay for their place in a male-dominated society. She also delivers a touching and surprisingly suspenseful story. Other Monk books in paperback: The Silent Cry, Cain His Brother, Defend and Betray, Weighed in the Balance. --Dick Adler

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:47 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Killian Melville is probably the most brilliant architect of the age. Young, intelligent, he is liked by everyone and despite his talent, he maintains an honesty which endears him to Victorian society. So when he visits Sir Oliver Rathbone, in need of the best lawyer there is to represent him over an alleged 'breach of promise,' Rathbone agrees despite his misgivings.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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