Following fantastic success with her debut, December Girl, Nicola Cassidy is back with her second historical novel.
Wanted, a respectable woman to care for a motherless child.
A young family are excited to be leaving tenement life behind. They are taking up residence in a cottage in the countryside. Whilst they embark on plans, they make a gruesome discovery. As the good life they envisioned is put to one side, investigations lead to a most horrific tale.
Bereaved William D. Thomas places an advertisement in his local paper for a nanny to care for his newborn daughter. When a young woman with appropriate experience arrives at his door, 43, Laurence Street, he hires her. Her presence will relieve housekeeper Mrs McHugh of the extra duties she’s been carrying out and perhaps bring a sense of calm to the household.
Mrs McHugh is very wary of the new Nanny. Something isn’t right, though she can’t quite put her finger on it. She visits her dear friend Betty, where she can confidentially air her grievances about The Nanny. Betty is bed bound by her window which overlooks Laurence Street. She can keep an eye on the comings and goings at number 43. Betty begins her own investigation into the Nanny. She reminds her of someone and before long she may well have discovered what has brought her into the life of her friend.
The Nanny, a quiet unassuming character one may initially think. She comes with experience and has settled the baby so well. As we learn of her past, it’s not difficult to comprehend why she has arrived at her current situation. Despite her coldness, there were times where I felt some empathy for the young girl she was. The Nanny harbours dark secrets and has arrived on Laurence Street with a determined purpose.
When blogger and author, Nicola took a local history tour of her home town in Drogheda, Co. Louth, she had no idea that her second novel would be borne from a passing tale. The guide spoke about a case of infanticide, where a young mother had hidden her newborn baby in a suitcase under her bed at the turn of the 19th century. Deciding to research the issue, Nicola discovered that infanticide and abandonment of babies was common throughout the 1800s in Ireland as women struggled to conceal unwanted pregnancies and deal with the stigma of illegitimacy.
It was the suitcase story and the finding of a newspaper advert from 1880 that formed the plot for The Nanny at No. 43, which follows the case of a mysterious woman arriving to take up a job as a nanny for a newborn baby in Drogheda. “I was very touched by that advert”, says Nicola. “It read; Wanted, Respectable Woman for Motherless Child. Three Weeks Old to Bottle Feed It. I thought……What if the woman turning up wasn’t respectable at all…..”
While the novel is fiction, Nicola has set her book at No.43 in Laurence Street, Drogheda, where the original advert was placed.
The Nanny at No.43 is another gem from Nicola Cassidy. She has perfected her craft and writes historical fiction with extensive knowledge of her subject matter.
It’s a pleasure to be part of the blog tour for The Nanny at Number 43, please visit the other reviewers and read their thoughts on the book.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Nanny at Number 43 in exchange for this review, which is my own honest opinion.