The House in Quill Court

Written by Charlotte Betts
Review by Cathy Kemp

In 1813, a time when there was no formal law enforcement, hardworking business people were regularly threatened to pay tithes to a mob leader to ensure they could continue to trade without reprisals. There was no social security for those out of work, poverty and disease was rife amongst the lower classes, and violence of every type was a constant threat.  Since the untimely death of her beloved father has left Venetia’s mother, younger brother and herself in straitened circumstances with no obvious means of support, the appearance of a handsome stranger forces on them a move to London. Far from the life she has known and the open spaces around her seaside home, Venetia is faced with a challenge of extraordinary proportions when they have to begin their new life at Quill Court in London.

Major Jack Chamberlaine is an unwelcoming host, and Venetia finds him difficult to work with as he accuses her of being a “gold-digger”. Despite this, she is determined to make a successful business for the whole household’s benefit, following in her father’s dreams of opening a high class establishment to sell furniture, soft furnishings and design wallpaper for the wealthy of London society.

The threats in this story, both real and imagined, build a web in which the characters become more linked as the story develops. The violence escalates through to the conclusion, and the descriptive passages of overflowing sewer-like streets and alleys have the reader almost inhaling the ordure along with the characters. It is a well-told tale with a satisfactory outcome and an enjoyable read.