Monday, October 19, 2020

The Secret Guests

Princesses. John Banville, writing as Benjamin Black, imagines young Princess Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret, being sent from London to rural Ireland in 1940 to escape the bombing. In his novel titled, The Secret Guests, Black helps readers see aspects of the personalities of Elizabeth and Margaret as children that resonate with their later lives. The action is set in Clonmillis Hall, the estate of the Duke of Edenmore, who could use funds to keep up the estate which has seen better days. The girls are in the care of a secret agent, Miss Celia Nashe, and an Irish detective. There’s an interesting cast of characters, some drama and tension, and the kind of hijinks and peril that should have prevented such a scheme as hiding the princesses from ever taking place. They may have been safer under the bombing than in Ireland. I think Banville enjoyed writing about something he thinks is plausible, and readers who enjoy imaginative historical fiction may delight in spending time with his imagination. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Secret Guests from

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