Thursday, March 26, 2020

Into the Closets - a coming of age mystery!

Greetings, commies!
If you want to take a break from the depressing news, consider picking up this entertaining and insightful coming of age mystery Into the Closets set in the archive rooms of the Buckingham Palace. 

A former Buckingham Palace employee recounts her time working at Buckingham Palace, through the eyes of her fictional character Aurelia Macintosh. With anecdotal observations of what really goes on at Britain's most famous residence, this novel, while a tale of fiction, draws an entertaining and enlightening portrait of life at the Palace the public rarely sees.
Aurelia goes to work for the Royal Collection, cataloguing the contents of several famous palaces. Her colleagues are a mixed lot of aristocrats, almost normal English people and foreigners. Security is a big issue in the palaces and when things start to disappear, they are all suspects.
The famous Holbein watercolour is stolen and Aurelia and her boyfriend Nick are asked to try to help finding the thief. But before they find any helpful clues they discover that Aurelia's workmates are not all what they seem, and their sexual preferences as well as their inherited problems can lead them into trouble. Above all the invaluable works of art in the palaces have to be protected from evil forces.
Click on the BUY NOW button to get your copy today.

My thoughts
To a recent art history grad, cataloguing artwork at the Buckingham Palace might sound like a dream job. Well, Aurelia Macintosh, the protagonist of the novel doesn't seem to think so. If you have read/watched "The Devil Wears Prada", you'll understand the predicament. A bright, serious young woman, who is apparently overqualified for the job, views it as a stepping stone. If anything, it's a flashy resume filler. A candid and open, someone socially awkward individual, Aurelia learns to navigate the world of her colleagues, learn to read between the lines and interpret subtle sneers. Her observation and analytical skills will come in handy when several pieces from the collection go missing. 

I have already read this author's historical novels set in Norway and Germany during WWII. This novel is semi-autobiographical, set in the 1990s. It's important to be mindful of the setting, because the world was different back then in terms of available technology, forensic tools as well as morals and sensibilities. It doesn't sound like a long time ago, but we're talking quarter of a century difference. The author does a good job keeping you in that period. You don't easily forget that the novel is set before the internet was at everyone's fingertips. LGBT individuals were more likely to hide their orientation from the world. Coming out could mean alienation from your family and unemployment. So many liberties and privileges that we take for granted in 2020 were still out of reach to many. 

The reader should be ready for many political discussions and references to the Parliament and the royal family. The title itself "Into the Closets" is such a loaded and intriguing title that evoke so many potential conflicts. I would not classify this novel as a straight up mystery. It's a coming of age story more than anything. A wide-eyed, sometimes overreaching Aurelia undergoes an emotional maturation process. 

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