The Duke Can Go to the Devil

Written by Erin Knightley
Review by Nancy Henshaw

The Bath Music Festival has been a great success, especially for the musical trio, Sophie, Charity and May. The first two have found true love, but May will be hard to please. She enjoys playing her zither before an audience, but she does not like Bath, having spent most of her life on the high seas with her father, a sea captain for the East India Company. She prefers the company – and the language – of sailors to the formality of Bath society. Especially those aristocrats, well, the wealthy, noble and snooty Duke of Radcliffe, whose nose is made for looking down and whose eyebrows are made for raising (one at a time or both together). May will soon ruffle his impeccable plumage.

This story is written at a fascinating time in British history. After terrifying events across the Channel, radical change must be achieved at home without revolution. The far-sighted Duke must set the example: how to ensure the well-being of his tenants and workforce without damaging the economies of nations in the Far East. All of May’s sympathies lie with the latter. Readers of this series are sure to enjoy this novel, although May and the Duke make awfully long speeches to one another followed by equally long introspection. A brisker pace would have allowed easier reading, and May’s frank speech sometimes lapses into the 21st century.