Book Reviews

On The House (The Hudson & Lawes Trilogy) by Helen Maskew

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List Price: £10.99


Paperback: 320 Pages.

Published: 31 July 2017 by Unbound Digital

ISBN: 1911586092

EAN: 9781911586098

1838 and under the new Poor Law the destitute are now housed in union workhouses. Two men unknown to each other seek to uncover the suspected mistreatment of inmates in a small Suffolk workhouse. Edgar Lawes is a local landowner and justice of the peace; Ambrose Hudson a London journalist. Establishing himself on the board Lawes is immediately disturbed by the inhumanity he finds. Hudson becomes an inmate and covertly keeps a journal of conditions and events which follow chronologically those of Edgar Lawes. The complacency of the owners is shattered by a suicide, closely followed by the brutal murder of a workhouse official. In the wake of these two deaths unlikely friendships are forged and lives are changed, but will it be for the better?


5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Well Researched

Set in the early Victorian period this book revolves around a newly opened small rural Suffolk workhouse. The new poor laws have just been passed and each area had its own workhouse. The place of last resort. Encouraged by a radical neighbour, local landowner and JP, Edgar Lawes joins the board. All is not quite as it seems on the surface & far from what is required by law. Events take a quick turn for the worse when one inmate commits suicide and a man is found murdered in the grounds.

This is a clearly well researched book with accurate descriptions and detail concerning not just the life in the poorhouse but also everyday life in the area around. The characters are well written with their own clear personalities showing a wide variety of characteristics.

It is impossible not to draw a comparison with this workhouse and the start of the Charles Dickens book, Oliver Twist, so it pleased me that the author was a step ahead of me in that! I also found myself reminded of Kate Summerscale's book "The Suspicions of Mr Whitcher". Although Kate Summerscale's book centred around a true crime whereas this book is totally fictional, the attitudes of the men and upper classes were very similar. In both books the investigations are foiled by the attitude of the powerful local men and the attitude towards women.

I am a fan of well researched historical novels. This is definitely one of these. I did wonder if the ending was a little too twee and "happily ever after" but then, why not sometimes!

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.

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