Ladies and gentlemen, you know me by now. I am not especially proficient at blowing my own trumpet. But seeing as I have a book to promote, I thought it prudent to at least let you know that I’ve got a trumpet. Here is my metaphorical trumpet:
…And here is the blowing of the trumpet, beautifully done by a very kind reader Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, a lady of vast intellectual talents:
Novels of pure fantasy aside, if one of the things you most enjoy about reading is roaming around in a world you’d never visit otherwise, you will find this unique take on a bit of Britain enchanting. I certainly did.
Even though I kept promising myself that I’d stop after the very next section, I was hooked by the author’s use of words and carefully crafted pacing – more so as I became absorbed in incident after incident. I read straight through in a single sitting, and was sorry it was time to put it down when I came to the end of the book.
The mechanics behind British upper-academia is full of terms that were new to me: Bedders, for example, and Porters of various types and titles charged with specific duties, none of which have anything to do with toting baggage. Through the protagonist’s thoughts (which she frequently struggles to keep to herself), the author provides just enough detail at just the right time to carry us along with PorterGirl as she figures out how to navigate her responsibilities in an unusual environment in which she never anticipated finding herself.
This is a light, quick read – unless you, like I, are frequently stopped by the many clever turns of phrase. Ms. Brazier is a master of the quirky reflection, and many times I was inspired to reread paragraphs simply to delight in her writing. Her sense of humor is way-out-of-the-box dry — smile-worthy always, and laugh aloud funny at times. I found her understated impressions a refreshing change from the hyperbolic descriptions and metaphors I frequently encounter as I read.
I won’t spoil her best lines for you, but here are a few I particularly enjoyed – although they are best appreciated in context:
“Old College also boasts some younger Fellows, gradually knowing more and more about less and less as the unrelenting grip of academia grows ever stronger.”
“But introspection can be difficult and displeasing; you just never know what you might see,” and “That saying about sticks and stones is misleading.”
“We must look like the worst competitors in the best-dressed, three-legged race of all time,” as her description of the attempt to travel on foot, following a bout of drinking.
I wanted to BE PorterGirl, and by the time I had walked that mile in her shoes I almost felt as if I were. My life-long preference for coffee was actually set aside long enough to brew a cup of tea at one particular point, as I yearned for some of those British biscuits to replace my American cookies. (Spoiler Alert: all of the characters in this novel are more than fond of their “victuals” – various meals and food-focused celebrations and pastimes are featured.)
I want more – and would love to see First Lady of the Keys developed into a series.
It’s only 99p / 99c on pre-order, what have you got to lose? (Less than a quid, certainly)