Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Travelling Matchmaker

Being a fan of M. C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin and Edwardian Murder Mysteries series, I thought that the attractively reissued novels from the Travelling Matchmaker series might be fun.  These were originally issued under the pseudonym of Marion Chesney in the 1990s but have recently been reissued by Constable Robinson this year.  I started with the first in the series of 6 novels.

These novels follow the matchmaking (or meddling) adventures of Miss Hannah Pym, a housekeeper of the 1800s, who inherits a substantial sum of money after her employer passes away.  Miss Pym has always dreamt of travelling on the Flying Machine - the stagecoach - and realises her fantasy once she finds herself a gentlewomen of independent means.

Each book appears to deal with a different heroine that Miss Pym encounters on her travels and your usual dashing male hero.  The first novel is fairly light with a few touches of humour and the prose is superior to some of Beaton's current Agatha Raisin offerings but I found it a little predictable.  I was also disappointed not to actually read much about Exeter as most of the novel is set in an inn en route to that town.

On the whole, not a bad novel and probably a decent low-key historical romance but without much substance and certainly without the whimsy that I anticipated.  There were nuggetts of historical information about travelling in England in the 19th century as well as inteteresting descriptions of dress and household concerns.  It was a quick, undemanding read that helped pass the time whilst waiting to been seen to in hospital (just a routine appointment for my Mom).  I'm not sure if I'll follow the series through as I read this more for the ambience of the titular towns but I doubt that much of the books actually deliver in this regard.  I was particularly looking forward to getting to the second book, Belinda goes to Bath, but alas that also appears to be thin on the Bath front.  I read this on my Sony Reader after purchasing it from Amazon at a discounted price... a nice way to try out an unfamiliar series.


Darlene said...

Hopefully these show up at my library. They sound quite charming and while they're not the sort of thing I usually read, I know lots of customers who would love them.

verity said...

Oh that is sad - those books aren't especial favourites of mine, but Exeter caught my eye as I spent 18 years growing up very near there (and going to school in the town).

Anonymous said...

They look like perfect throwaway reads and am a bit disappointed they're not as good as they could be. I love books like that for the place as much as the story. I'm going to Bath in May myself so might have to dig out Bath Tangle for a re-read!

Anonymous said...

I have only just discovered these and have the first one to read on my kindle. I saw the Portsmouth one first (that is where I am) but being rather organised I do like to read things in order!

My mum is reading it at the moment, I think it is something which we can share together. Compare notes.

I do like the covers though!

JoAnn said...

I enjoy Agatha Raisin, but haven't hard of these before. Will have to investigate - thanks!

FleurFisher said...

This looked as if it couldn't be wonderful, and I'm sorry it didn't live up to expectations. But less disappointed than I was that my library has no copies - I checked a while ago when I saw the book in your sidebar.

Cristina (Rochester Reader) said...

Darlene: I think a lot of people might enjoy these as a quick, light read.

Verity: I visited Exeter briefly en route to Cornwall a few years ago but was sadly only able to see it in the night-time. I'll never forget the name of the vegan dessert that I had there on my birthday that evening... it was called Heaven in Devon :-) Delicious!

Ramblingfancy: Oh have fun in Bath! It's a such a lovely, history-rich place. I love the title 'Bath Tangle' so I'm off to find a copy. I'll might make it my first Georgette Heyer - been meaning to read her for a long time!

Jos: The covers are quite whimsical. Let me know what you think. Perhaps I was expecting too much.

Jo: My pleasure! I have fond memories of my first Agatha Raisin reads - I think I read several of them in order, I loved them so much.

Cristina (Rochester Reader) said...

Fleur: Sorry your library doesn't have it - are you able to suggest that they purchase it - if they don't charge for that service? It wasn't completely to my liking but others might enjoy it.