Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Beautiful Lies by Clare Clark

The year is 1887, and London is aglow with the excitement of Victoria's Golden Anniversary celebration.  The show to see is Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and society flocks to each performance.  One of society's gliterring couples are the Campbell Lowes. Edward is a Member of Parliment representing his Scottish holdings. His wife, Maribel, is a Chilean heiress who grew up in Paris. They know everyone worth knowing, dining with Oscar Wilde one day and political stars the next.  Their lives are enviable.

But all is not as it seems.  Edward and Maribel are hiding many secrets.  Their Scottish estates are mortgaged to the hilt.  Edward's politics lead to him being considered a rabblerouser by many, and it is unclear how long he can sustain his political career.  Maribel's background is far different from that which is commonly known, and the secrets of their courtship and marriage coukd lead to the ruin of this favored couple.  When they run afoul of a powerful newspaper editor, their lives balance on an increasingly seesawing balance.

Clare Clark has created a fascinating view into Victorian society.  The politics were changing as socialism and the rise of the champions of the working poor occurred.  Women's roles were starting to change, and some dared to carve out lives that encompassed more than home and children.  Clark uses the lives of the Campbell Lowes to demonstrate this changing world.  The historical facts are well-researched, illustrated through the fictional lives of the main characters.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction and illustrates a time period many know little about.

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