June 30, 2014
I’ve been writing about sinisterly crumbling houses for a blog post coming up later in the week, and it occurred to me that for this week’s special, I wanted to feature a crumbling house that isn’t sinister at all. Back in the day (that would be the middle of the 18th century), the Countess Ashby de la Zouche – she of the magnificent bustline — lived in a splendid mansion with the Count, scads of servants, and aristocratic lovers hiding in the shrubberies. But the Count is gone, as are the servants, the bustline, and even the shrubberies, hocked alongside anything else that might fetch the price of a beer. These days the Countess lives in the kitchen of her former estate (the one room where the roof doesn’t leak), with her former maid (whose bustline is still holding up) and a single, decrepit manservant who is less deferential than one might like. There’s a murder – of course there’s a murder! – but mostly there are giggles galore. We adore Unnatural Fire, the first in an absolutely scrumptious series. If historical fiction has seemed to you to treat the past with a certain reverence, the Countess is the corrective you’re looking for. Let her be your tour-guide to The 1700s: Just the Dirty Parts. And for this week only, she’ll do it cheap.