Evelina Manning is a clockmaker's daughter in London during the Great
War. She's also a would-be suffragette. This atmospheric book is third
in the Shadows Over England series and begins in 1915, when we see that AN HOUR UNSPENT can create dangers.
Barclay Pearce is a reformed former criminal -- well, somewhat
reformed. He still uses his burglary skills but now he's extracting
secrets, not silverware. The reader isn't entirely sure who is the
beneficiary of his meddling and peddling, but some of the secrets
sound suspicious in time of war. For his latest assignment, Barclay,
from the East End working district of Poplar, is to get close to the
clockmaker who maintains the Great Clock at Westminster, known
affectionately after its bell Big Ben. He begins by meeting the
craftsman at his Hammersmith residence.
Evelina, also called Lina, is reeling from her fiancé's decision to join the
army as an officer, and Basil tells her not to wait for his return. With
legs weak from childhood polio and a militant desire to vote, she
realises now she's not a great catch. Barclay and his ten younger
siblings move across the road. Lina quickly becomes friends with the
girls in the family, in particular, Olivia, who has an injured leg from a
coach accident. But her days are also spent visiting factories now
staffed by women, insisting they be given proper hours and lunch
breaks. They are doing war work and their safety is important. Barclay
would like to get to know the young lady, but she's seldom in one place.
He knows most of the East End thugs, and now he thinks a stranger is
The story trots from lie to set up, from truth to wishful thinking. I
admire the research by Roseanna M. White that has gone into creating
the setting. The clockmaker's workshop is just like a steampunk story
with gears, gadgets and automata, great fun. And we meet
watchmakers arguing amiably about whether any gentleman would
choose to buy a wristlet watch with Rolex on the face. We see some of
the divisions among London society. Even among suffragists, we find
divisions; votes for all women, or just property owners? Then bombs
start dropping from a Zeppelin, and danger is real.
Give yourself a treat and settle into this historical romance, with
underlying suspense and social history. I can't tell you how much I
enjoyed the read. AN HOUR
UNSPENT is suitable for teens or adults, in fact, anyone who likes
to read historical adventures.
Once London's top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back
on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at
war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker's daughter from a
mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.
Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence, but
she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to
end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the
intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning
residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she
can't help being interested. But she soon learns that
nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.
As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an
ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military
edge--and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina's father soon
finds his whole family in danger--and it may just take a
reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape.