Friday, January 2, 2009
Book Review: In the Company of Secrets
Miller, Judith. 2007. Postcards from Pullman: In the Company of Secrets. Bethany House. 382 pages.
Run! Faster! Hurry!
Historical fiction. Set in 1892.
Wanting to escape the advances of a malicious Chef Mallard, Olivia Mott, a mere scullery maid, finds herself tangled up in an ever-growing web of lies when she accepts help from Lady Charlotte Spencer, the daughter of the Count and Countess of Lanshire. Lady Charlotte temporarily rescues the young woman with culinary aspirations, but it comes with a price. She wants to flee with her. Flee to America. To Pullman, Illinois, to be exact. For she is in a messy predicament as well: she's in the family way. With stolen jewels paying their way to America's shores--and to the child's father, a Mr. Randolph Morgan, the two make their way to Pullman. With a forged letter of recommendation--written by Charlotte on official stationary stolen from her parents, Olivia Mott finds work in the kitchen--as an assistant chef not a scullery maid. But what Olivia discovers on that first day is that Mr. Morgan lives in Chicago. With his wife. With his children. Charlotte's plans haven't come off, but the two decide to stick it out and do th best they can. Olivia is rooming with Charlotte who is now wearing the name Mrs. Hornsby. (She's pretending to be a widow maddened by grief.) Olivia is soon being wooed by two men--a wealthy (or wealthier) Mr. Howard, a widower, and Fred DeVault--a nicer but poorer man living with his mother and with Olivia's cousin, Albert. Day after day, week after week, month after month, Olivia becomes more unsatisfied, more guilty, more burdened by the lies she's living with, living under.