Penelope Goes to Portsmouth – M.C.Beaton

Miss Pym has been on her adventures in Exeter and Bath, in third book in the travelling matchmaker series she embarks ona journey to Portsmouth. And this time she makes it to Portsmouth and gets to experience the sea, which is the reason why she wanted to go in the first place.

Miss Hannah Pym, former servant and now through a legacy has the wherewithal to travel. Not abroad but by stagecoach to various English cities. Along the way Miss Pym invariably finds herself in a coach with passengers who are she feels in need matchmaking. Somehow her audacity, charm and plotting means that they by the end of the journey she has succeeded. Not without a few obstacles along the way.

On her travels to Portsmouth, Miss Pym has to contend with a rather bitter governess Miss Trenton, who despise the pretty young girl she has taught in the past. Therefore despising Miss Penelope Wilkins who graces the title of this book as well as the hearts of the men she meets. One of them is Lord Augustus, the second son and his place in life is rather unclear and therefore he spends his days wasting time with pretty things and gambling. A Lord with very little prospect. Mr Cato, an American and rather brash is on his way back after unsuccessfully it transpires into finding a wife to make life more companionable.

They hit problems with the stagecoach, and their perpetrator of the crime is somewhat surprising. Then we have a glorious wicked lady in Lady Carsey who seems to have her mind sent on dastardly matters especially when it comes to footman. Miss Pym has a lot to contend with on her journey south.

This is a good escapist book, and you know what is going to happen, a problem will befall the coach, the inns they stay at will be of varying quality and everything will work out alright in the end. By the end of this book (and the previous two) I always feel that Miss Pym is “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” and I hope she one day finds happiness, perhaps on her next travels. Perhaps not?

There are three more books to go in this series. I have yet to visit Brighton, Dover and York and they are now on my wish list. Perhaps they may pop up in a charity shop. This one holds slightly more to me as the title is my home city, and I have the luck to be able to see the sea very frequently and perhaps take it for granted. Although I will say that the book is not very specific on its locations in Portsmouth, however the journey down is on what is now the old A3. After taking its course out of London through the highly dangerous area between Knightsbridge and Kensington. A haunt for highway men…” People wishing to walk from Kensington to Hyde Park Corner were meant to gather at the sound of a bell outside the entrance to Kensington Palace so that several could walk together in order to mitigate the perils of the journey”. I think of these two highly desirable places today and smile!