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.