The Sleeping Partner: A Sarah Tolerance Mystery (英语) 平装 – 2011年10月31日
The Sleeping Partner heralds the return of the serene and self-reliant Miss Sarah Tolerance, Fallen Woman and Agent of Inquiry. This time, Miss Tolerance is seeking not a missing trinket or the solution to a crime, but a living person - a young gentlewoman who has vanished from under her wealthy family's roof, apparently bent on a scandalous elopement with a mysterious man whom nobody knows. Her elder sister is desperate to find and forgive her - and Sarah, haunted by the similarities between this girl's story and her own, is determined to assist - but with nothing to go on but a false name and a small sketched portrait, the case is proving her most difficult yet. As the search intensifies, Miss Tolerance must adversaries who will stop at nothing to keep her from finding the girl. And, more than she had ever expected, the mystery surrounding this young woman so like and yet so unlike herself forces Miss Tolerance to confront the voices of her own past, and to question what her future may hold. Reviews: At the outset of Robins's entertaining third mystery set in Regency London (after 2004's Petty Treason), an upper-class lady using the pseudonym "Mrs. Brown" calls on Sarah Tolerance, a freelance "agent of inquiry" whom society deems a fallen woman because she eloped at 16 with her brother's fencing tutor. Mrs. Brown wants Sarah's help in locating her 16-year-old sister, Evadne, who has eloped, unwilling to remain in their father's house under his "harsh rule." Sarah, struck by the similarities between Evadne's situation and her own at the same age, searches for the missing girl in London's underworld, where she discovers connections to her own family and to a wider war-profiteering scandal. Colorful characters like Sarah's brothel-keeping Aunt Thea, cameos by such real-life personages as Mary Wollstonecraft, and the slow-burning romance between the quick-witted Sarah and close friend Sir Walter Mandiff all add to the fun. - Publishers Weekly
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At first, I fear I might be disappointed. The story gets off to a slow start, and the sword fights I enjoyed in the first two books are almost absent here.
However, The Sleeping Partner soon becomes unputdownable. What has happened to young, innocent Evadne, who seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth? Why does this case, which Miss Tolerance is investigating with delicacy and secrecy, bring so many attacks on her? Who among Evadne's family will stand up to her father, who writes her off as a disgrace not welcome again in his house?
Especially fascinating is that as Miss Tolerance investigates her most challenging case yet, we see the many terrible effects of the time's misogyny on women's lives and how these effects ripple through families and society as a whole. Several characters grow in response to Evadne's disappearance and her fate, and we see how even in times of hate and intolerance, there are good people willing to stand up for the downtrodden. I won't spoil the surprise of who one of these good people is, but I loved the cameo appearance of a great woman of history.
Meanwhile, Miss Tolerance''s aunt is still suffering effects of the stroke she had in book 2 and has become unpredictable, making life in her bawdy house a strain for all the servants and prostitutes and causing worry all around. Miss Tolerance herself grows as she questions many of her assumptions about the limitations of her life as a fallen woman when she is badly injured and must rely on her friend Sir Walter for help and when the brother she assumed never wanted to see her again is delighted to know she is alive.
I look forward to the next book in the series. I hope it will continue the interesting mysteries of the first three books while including the social commentary and character profiles that make the third book rise above the first two.