The Poisoned House

The Poisoned House - Michael  Ford I'm not sure I'll get past the first chapter of this book. Whatever else follows it, what I've read so far indicates precious little knowledge of the period, or at least conflicts with what I've always understood of it. It's supposed to be from "actual documents" narrated by a scullery maid. A scullery maid would be able to write little more than her own name, if that - unless there is some good explanation later on for why she can write a full narrative in Standard English. Also, after running away, "without references I could hope for little more than parlor maid duties." In your dreams, child! The scullery maid would be at the bottom of the female (or any) servants' ranking, and the parlor maid would be near the top. Parlor maids were usually chosen for their looks since they would be seen by guests, and they would most certainly need references.

Up to Chapter 15 - the story has definitely gotten better, and there is a legitimate reason (of sorts) why she can read and write. A couple of little things still bother me, though, like her superiors in the household calling her "Miss Tamper." They would never show the scullery maid such respect - if anything they would just call her by her last name.

Finally finished - definitely much better, though there are still a lot of things that I found pretty unbelievable, like why the housekeeper was so determined to keep Abigail in the house, or how the master could have justified keeping her mother (originally hired as a nurse for his son) there for years after his son was far too old. I suppose if it's read as a kind of fairy tale rather than realistic fiction... nothing excuses that first chapter, though.