Lying With Lions – Annabel Fielding

Good afternoon guys!

Are you ready for the weekend? Stavanger is finally cooling down a little bit which is nice. Not that I like rain (although it is good reading weather) but it’s been a little too warm for my liking lately. I’m on a blog tour for today’s book and it’s an historical fiction from a period which is a little unknown to me. It was nice to read a book set in a different time than my favorites which is where I mainly stay. The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads:

Edwardian England. Agnes Ashford knows that her duty is threefold: she needs to work on cataloguing the archive of the titled Bryant family, she needs to keep the wounds of her past tightly under wraps, and she needs to be quietly grateful to her employers for taking her up in her hour of need. However, a dark secret she uncovers due to her work thrusts her into the Bryants’ brilliant orbit – and into the clutch of their ambitions.

They are prepared to take the new century head-on and fight for their preeminent position and political survival tooth and nail – and not just to the first blood. With a mix of loyalty, competence, and well-judged silence Agnes rises to the position of a right-hand woman to the family matriarch – the cunning and glamorous Lady Helen. But Lady Helen’s plans to hold on to power through her son are as bold as they are cynical, and one day Agnes is going to face an impossible choice…

Lying With Lions had quite a slow start in my opinion. Later I discovered that the start builds up to the following events and that it gives a solid background for understanding the rest of the story and its intricate web. However, slow starts that lasts way into the story isn’t quite my cup of tea even if I can understand the holistic reason for them in a plot perspective. The political aspect of this historical period plays a central role in this story and this is also something I believe plays a part in me struggling to get a grasp of the story from the beginning. I’m not a very politically engaged person and thus reading about it isn’t something I find very engaging. However, when I read the story I got the sense that there is a lot of stuff going on between the lines, and I think is most clearly portrayed in how we are presented to the characters. One of my favorite parts in this book is the relationships between the characters and how they evolve as you read. There’s subtle hints passing between some of the characters that makes you wonder where the relationship is going, what has been between them in the past, and why. I also enjoyed how the book in somewhat open secrecy talks about how women sought love with each other and how they showed each other their love in secret out in the open. This is something I haven’t encountered too much in historical fiction earlier so I found that very intriguing to read about. It creates for some good mystique in the plot which is always exciting. I also found the language in this book very rewarding and I believe that Annabel Fielding is an author to keep an eye out for in the future!

Agnes is a somewhat peculiar main character. If there’s something called ‘ghost’ when it comes to main characters Agnes is just that. She’s with us from the start but you get the sense that she just popped up, which she literally did, but we have no info about her. I found this somewhat intriguing because whilst reading you get the sense that there is something more to Agnes and her history that is important but what that is I’m not going to reveal. I have to say I admire her ability to adapt to the political and social world around her. She’s like a chameleon who fits in everywhere. This is mainly her strength throughout the plot but I get the sense that it can be a burden from time to time as well. Then there’s Helen who is Agnes’ employer. She’s also a very mysterious character and we get the sense that she hasn’t had the grandest life with her husband. She’s very distanced but is able to portray some warmer sides when the situation allows it. I couldn’t agree with myself whether or not I liked Helen. She provides a solid balance in the story because of her character traits but I found her difficult to connect to. Agnes was easier since she is the main character and we follow her perspective but when Helen shows the reader her softer side I found it easier to like her than when she is the Ice Queen she mainly is during this story.

Lying With Lions wasn’t quite my cup of tea because of the slow start and the prominent presence of politics in the book. I did however enjoy certain aspects of the book and these I found very well executed! I see that a lot of people really enjoyed the book too so I think this speaks to its holistic credibility. After all, you can’t enjoy all books the same, sadly. If you enjoy books from Edwardian England and have an interest in politics I do believe you will enjoy this book and its characters. If this is the case I really do recommend that you pick up this book!

Published: 2021

Genre: Historical fiction

Theme: Family, secrets

– The Book Reader

58111070. sy475

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