Goodbye Picadilly

Written by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Review by Ann Northfield

From the author of the well-known Morland Dynasty novels comes this first novel in a new series beginning just before the advent of the First World War. This epic family saga centres on the Hunters, who are a comfortable upper middle-class family. Daughter Diana is beautiful enough to marry well, but it is doubtful whether her latest beau, the son of Earl Wroughton, will be allowed to marry a banker’s daughter. Accused of fortune hunting, Diana thinks bitterly to herself of the lack of opportunities and career paths for women, a key topic of the age. The eldest Hunter son epitomises the contemporary urge for heroics and doing something noble as he breaks his mother’s heart by volunteering for the army. The jingoistic and patriotic attitudes of the day are convincingly conveyed, with a party-like atmosphere and fervent beliefs that it will all be over by Christmas. The newly enlisted soldiers’ camp is similar to a Boy Scout camp with singing and nationalistic pride to the forefront, but of course this adds to the poignancy for the reader, who, with hindsight unavailable to the characters, is aware of the terrible Armageddon which is about to commence. There are comparisons with Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs as the servants are also an important part of the unfolding drama. Thoroughly enjoyable and well worth a read. I’m looking forward to the next one in the series already.