Jane And The Stillroom Maid
A stillroom, in early nineteenth century England, was the place where medicines were distilled, stored and dispensed. The maidservant whose often-atrocious remedies begin each chapter is found murdered in circumstances that point to freemasonry, an organization of the landed classes. This polite world of elegant mansions filled with English aristocrats existed concurrently with an uneducated, superstitious English working class.
The action in this fifth volume of the Jane Austen mystery series explores these contrasting elements of society by using the heroine’s role as a go-between and observer. Jane Austen barely qualifies to associate with the upper classes, but her shabby genteel position in society actually allows her slightly more freedom of movement and protects her at the same time. Of course, our belief must be suspended that the famous novelist could possibly have sustained all these adventures, but it is done in a pleasant and disarming manner. The regard and interest of Lord Harold Trowbridge , the intelligent and open-minded “Gentleman Rogue,” enlivens the romantic landscape of Miss Austen’s fictional life, which we know in reality was ultimately barren.