Starrbelow by Christiana Brand
A young Italian woman travels to eighteenth-century England to wage war on polite society in this sweeping historical saga of mystery, scandal, and romance.
Sophia Devigne is a child of Venice, as much a part of the wonderful island city as the canals themselves. If it were up to her, she would never leave, but her family has other ideas. For the sake of her British father’s honor, she’s being sent to London to make her societal debut. Her father hopes she’ll attract a wealthy husband and retire to a life of polite boredom in the English countryside, but beneath Sophia’s genteel exterior lurks the wild spirit of Venice, which will thrust her headlong into the scandal of the century.
When Sophia wins the hand of the dashing Lord Weyburn, she believes her troubles are over. But his elegant Cotswold estate, Starrbelow, is just another gilded cage. Desperate to be free, she escapes to town—and embarks on a wild debauch that shocks all London. Never again will she call herself Sophia. Now she’s Sapphire, and she’ll bow to no man. But when her wild indulgences embroil her in a suspicious death, Sapphire is accused of murder, and faces the merciless judgment of the court of public opinion. On trial by society, she will live or die as she always has: unbroken and standing tall.
This stirring recreation of eighteenth-century English society combines adventure, murder, and timeless romance. Christianna Brand was one of the masters of classic British mystery fiction, and Starrbelow is one of her greatest works.
“You have to reach for the greatest of Great Names to find Brand’s rivals in the subtleties of the trade.” —Anthony Boucher, The New York Times
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