Book review: The Mitford Trial by Jessica Fellowes

Saturday, November 14, 2020 Permalink

The Mitford Trial is the fourth in the series by Jessica Fellowes. Each of the books focuses loosely on one of the (in)famous Mitford sisters (of which there were five, as well as a brother). I hadn’t realised when I embarked on the first book in the series, The Mitford Murders that the Mitford family actually existed and that the girls in particular quite well known.

These books are fiction, but based on true events and Fellowes includes historical notes at the end of each book. The Mitford Trial is set over a few years in the early 1930s and we’re edging closer to the second world war. The mystery at the heart of this book very much reflects the involvement of Mitford family members drawn to fascism and communism and their allegiances with Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Book review: The Mitford Trial by Jessica FellowesThe Mitford Trial
by Jessica Fellowes
Series: Mitford Murders #4
Published by Hachette Australia
on 10/11/2020
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9780751573961
Pages: 356

It's lady's maid Louisa Cannon's wedding day, but the fantasy is shattered shortly after when she is approached by a secretive man asking her to spy on Diana Mitford - who is having an affair with the infamous Oswald Mosley - and her similarly fascist sister Unity.

Thus as summer 1933 dawns, Louisa finds herself accompanying the Mitfords on a glitzy cruise, full of the starriest members of Society. But the waters run red when a man is found attacked, with suspects everywhere.

Back in London, the case is taken by lawyer Tom Mitford, and Louisa finds herself caught between worlds: of a love lost to blood, a family divided, and a country caught in conflict.

Events are again narrated by Louisa Cannon (who has worked for the Mitford family on and off for over a decade) and London Metropolitan police officer Guy Sullivan, who she marries as this book opens.

I like that Louisa’s role is becoming more substantial and very much enjoyed the storyline involving her marriage to Guy – as she’s now battling to find her place in a new life (as a wife) as well as the class-based world inhabited by the Mitfords. The latter continue to alternate between treating Louisa as a confidante and the hired help (to be discarded when not required).

This mystery becomes enmeshed with politics – romantic affairs, unpaid debts, spies and fascists – and left me a tad confused. We eventually get the information we need but I wasn’t entirely sure it made sense and certainly there’s a sense that justice may not have been served.

I’m enjoying the journey into the Mitford family’s lives and liking Louisa and Guy more and more, but my main (ongoing) gripe with this series is the way Fellowes jumps about in time. Books are often set years apart and this story actually leaps about a couple of years (between the time of the murder and the court case) and we switch back and forth between the two. It feels a lot goes unanswered during our time away from the characters. Perhaps I’m alone in this but I think I disengage with them as they’ve moved on during the our time apart and seem unfamiliar when we meet them again.

Having said that, I’m conscious that Fellowes probably does that to keep the timeline consistent with real life events on which she’s basing her stories.

The Mitford Trial by Jessica Fellowes was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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