Hannah Pym has worked her way up from being a scullery maid to housekeeper but when her employer dies and she is left a bequest of five thousand pounds she decided that what she needs is some adventure.
After every day of watching the stagecoach, the Flying Machine goes past with six horses, Hannah wants to experience travel. She is not bothered as much about her final destination but the act of going there; to her this is an adventure. First journey is London to Exeter on the Exeter Fly a journey which will take 3 days. However it is midwinter and before they have even left London, snow is starting to fall but that will not be their only problem along the journey. We are in a time of highwayman in Kensington (of all places!) and corrupt toll keepers. All these will be encountered by Hannah and the other passengers on the trip.
The passengers are an eclectic mix, a widow Mrs Bisely, with her new fiancée Captain Seaton who only sees money and not love for his future. Mr Fletcher, a lawyer, rather unkempt and quiet. Mrs Bradley a lady who has a bagful of lotions, potions and ointments to cure every ill or complaint. Lord Harley is looking for someone who has run away. Edward Smith does not appear to all that he seems and when they reach the first inn sleeping arrangements become a cause for concern.
Snowed in and differing people, including the coachman and the post boy as well as the ‘outsiders’ those that pay to sit atop the coach not inside are all thrown together. Human nature takes over with some of them, and for Hannah it seems an ideal opportunity to organise them as she has organised keeping a house. The tag of this book and the subsequent others is The Travelling Matchmaker, so it is apparent where the story is going to go. But it was a great fun watching them all get there, and no one was hard done by and all wickedness was dealt with appropriately.
M.C. Beaton’s series, of which is the first book is a light historical look at the turn of the nineteenth century and a young woman on her adventures using the stagecoach as the basis of them. Yes, there are times when you forget the era as it could be about anything happening today but you are soon brought back to the time of the book, the attention to detail regarding the stage coaches and their routes have obviously been well looked into. A good escapist fun read.
This book is a bit of light-hearted fun and was quick to read; couple of days, 186 pages. I love the cover of the book, which makes it rather whimsical as well. Escaping onto the stage-coach, to somewhere new, having to stay overnight at places because of the length of journey – 3 days to Exeter. Imagine telling someone that today, in an age where we want to get to our destination “yesterday” this book certainly reminds you that perhaps we should be grateful we have the transport system we do. According to one site, by car the journey would take upwards of 4 hours, 2 1/2 hours by rail, and by air .8 hours including (their words not mine!) 30 minutes fannying about time!
The only thing about stage coaches is I automatically think of cowboys, vast expanses of dry land and John Wayne! Not anymore though, I think of a fine lady wanting to make sure everyone is matched correctly.