Monday 1 July 2024

πŸ“– Featured Book of the Month ~ The Burial Plot by Elizabeth Macneal

Pan Macmillan
11 June 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

London, 1839. Where the cemeteries are full and there is money to be made in death, Bonnie and Crawford lead a life of trickery, surviving off ill-gotten coin and nefarious schemes. But one hot evening, their luck runs out. A man lies in a pool of blood at Bonnie’s feet and now she needs to disappear.

Crawford secures her a position as lady’s maid in a grand house on the Thames, still deep in mourning for its late mistress. As Bonnie comes to understand this family – the eccentric Mr Moncrieff, obsessively drawing mausoleums grand enough for his dead wife, and their peculiar daughter Cissie, scribbling imaginary love letters to herself from the mysterious Lord Duggan – she begins to question what really happened to Mrs Moncrieff and whether her own presence here was planned from the beginning.

Because Crawford is watching, and perhaps he is plotting his greatest trick yet...

πŸ“– My Review

Bonnie Fairchild escapes her home in the country only to find herself lost and alone in London. Rescued by the charismatic Crawford, Bonnie is soon under his spell and what a spell Crawford casts on all those around him. Cruel and manipulative, Crawford has his eye firmly fixed on the main chance and so when the need arises for Bonnie to make a swift escape from London Crawford arranges that she is taken on as a lady's maid to Cissie Moncrieff at Endellion House, a gothic mansion on the outskirts of London. With the master of the house wrapped in grief for his dead wife and a craving to build a mausoleum in her honour, Bonnie is soon welcomed into this dark and dreary house however, Crawford and his scheming ways are never far away...

The Victorian obsession with death is firmly entrenched in this story and what I found fascinating was the integration into the plot of the rise of organised cemeteries. We go from throwing bodies in lime pits, to the organisation of the grand cemetery, with detailed burial plots, and hidden catacombs in a fascinating Victorian Gothic thriller which captivates from the first page. Decidedly dark, and often gritty, the author has captured the Victorian gloom with ethereal characters who write love letters to themselves and the sadness of others who brood on death whilst at the same time giving us Bonnie, a feisty and determined young woman who will do whatever it takes to survive.

The Burial Plot is a compelling novel about the dangerous nature of obsession, the manipulation of greed and the overwhelming need for dangerous retribution. Along with its cover, it's a beauty and I have no hesitation making it my Featured Book of the Month for July.

About the Author

Elizabeth Macneal was born in Edinburgh and now lives in East London. She is a writer and potter and works from a small studio at the bottom of her garden. She read English Literature at Oxford University, before working in the City for several years. In 2017, she completed the Creative Writing MA at UEA in 2017 where she was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury scholarship.

X @esmacneal #TheBurialPlot


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