“Beastly of him to die before you realized he might be fascinating.”
― Tasha Alexander,
I have to say that I think joining the Around the Year in 52 Books Goodreads group has been one of the best decisions I’ve made there so far.
Not only is it absolutely FILLED with challenges that will easily last me, well, another 52 books, but it has also allowed me to read the book that I am about to review.
And Only to Deceive tells the story of recently widowed Lady Emily Ashton. For Emily, accepting Philip Ashton’s proposal was her way out of her overbearing mother’s house, and away from the constant restraints of society. However, six months into married life her new husband dies while on a safari in Africa. Now, two years later, Emily uncovers the journals that her late husband kept, and with them the dark secrets that had led to his death.
This book is suspenseful, thrilling, and essentially everything that I could have ever wanted from this novel. It’s Pride and Prejudice mixed heartily with the Da Vinci Code with a little bit of Nancy Drew thrown in on the side.
Set in Victorian England, we see the typical “social” obligations and mannerisms that everyone is expected to behave with. And yet we are shown Emily’s character, and how she generally despises them. She wants to learn, to be an academic, and is multilingual. She enjoys Greek and reading ancient poetry and visiting the museum, inspired by her late husband’s love for ancient Greek and Roman culture.
There are so many great and wonderful things about this novel. I love Emily’s character, how bold and curious that she is. I think that her friends, particularly Cecile and Margaret, are entertaining and generally flawless.
Cecile is the eccentric grandmother figure that we all want in our lives, and Margaret is the feisty best friend who, in modern day, would be all over tumblr and excellent in spoken word.
“I shall be forever grateful to you for breaking whatever unfortunate object you did in order to rescue me.”
There are, of course, the love interests. But, they did not read like your typical triangle love story. Both characters, Colin and Andrew, are very important to the plot of the novel, and while their feelings towards Emily are made clear about halfway through, this does not change Emily’s character one bit. She stays true to her sense of self and what she wants to do with her newly independent life.
“At least as a single woman, I had time to pursue my own interests, read voraciously, and travel when opportunity presented.”
The plot is riveting, while it does start of slow, building with Emily suddenly realizing that her late husband is someone that she could have loved dearly, it smoothly transitions to the sudden appearance of forgeries and theft at the British Art Museum that her late husband had been so fond of.
Tasha Alexander’s writing is phenomenal, she is incredibly detailed and just magnificent at truly creating a feeling of place and setting in this novel. I can’t wait to hear more about Lady Emily’s adventures, and will definitely be looking forward to reading more of her work in the future.
I just can’t find anything negative to say about this novel, and honestly I really don’t want to either.