The Wardrobe Mistress
The Wardrobe Mistress is mainly set in and around a small theatre, the Farren Theatre in London, after World War II. The area had been heavily bombed during the war but the building had survived. We first meet Vanessa as a child of five who has been taken to the theatre by her father to see a production of Sleeping Beauty. After the performance, she is taken backstage and meets Eva St. Clair, who gives her a small gold key on a length of ribbon. We then jump to the 1940s where Vanessa has joined the WAAF. She meets a naval commander, Alastair Redenhall, and after the war they both become involved in running the Farren Theatre, she as the wardrobe mistress. Much is to follow.
I found this to be a fascinating tale and more so the further I read into it. The characters are believable and the pace is good, but its provenance as an historical novel is vague, to say the least. Apart from references to the war and the inclusion of the extreme winter of 1947, there is little to recommend it as history. It could have been set in any small theatre in any town at any time as the Naval and WAAF connection has little bearing, if any at all, on the actual story. A previous book by this author won the 2014 Festival of Romantic Fiction’s “Best Historical Read” and was shortlisted for the 2015 Romance Writers of America Award. To my mind this is more a romantic than a historical novel. However, a good read for all that.