Maid of Oaklands Manor

Written by Terri Nixon
Review by Nancy Henshaw

In the summer of 1912, Lizzie Parker, the new scullery maid at Oaklands Manor, proves to be disastrously accident-prone. Constantly dreading dismissal, instead she finds herself personal maid to wilful Evie Cresswell, who likes her; so does friend of the family, Jack Carlisle. Evie celebrates her 18th birthday and takes possession of the Kalteng Diamond. The disappearance of this fabulous jewel leads to Lizzie’s arrest and imprisonment for theft.

In 1916 Lizzie is released early from her grim life in Holloway prison. Jack Carlisle is waiting for her at the prison gates, and she is restored to Oaklands. But the old order has collapsed and she has returned to a world at war where Evie is a VAD ambulance driver who has given her heart to Will Davies, the former butcher’s assistant from home. He has been fighting at the Front but is missing, declared a deserter. Jack, who can be so loving, so mindful of Lizzie’s well-being, becomes elusive and moody. There have always been dark rumours about the death of Oaklands’ heir, Lord Henry Cresswell, in the Boer War, where Jack was the only witness to his heroic end. Oaklands becomes a place of mystery for Lizzie leading her into mortal danger and satisfying claustrophobic secret passages. And the Kalteng Diamond has never been found. This book ends with a wedding but whose and to whom? A family tree would have been useful but would unfortunately solve most of the mystery.

This is an easy-to-read book with a host of characters, many undergoing changes as readers get to know them well. It is a patchwork story that may need to be read more than once to be fully appreciated.