It is a joy to read a book that I know will make the “10 Star” list on my site. Moonraker’s Bride, by Madeleine Brent, is such a book.
In much the same way as the protagonist in The Blue Castle (another 10 star favorite,) main character Lucy Waring’s life begins in one place and situation before making a dramatic shift to another. Lucy is a 17 year old British orphan living in China, knowing no other life than the impoverished orphanage run by a well-meaning, but sickly, Miss Prothero. Miss Prothero’s ill health forces Lucy, as the orphanage’s oldest resident, to take on all of the daily responsibilities, including the most basic–finding the means to feed the children in her care. Despite the mounting obstacles, Lucy loves being needed and has learned to be a quick-thinking, courageous, resourceful young woman.
One day, when Lucy’s luck (seemingly) runs out, she meets political prisoner, Nick Sabine. Nick’s own future is grim, but this unlikely meeting changes Lucy’s life forever. Suddenly she is immersed in a myriad of adventures that include a puzzling riddle, a lost treasure, a family feud, and numerous other twists and turns.
The story, the writing style, and, especially, the character development in Moonraker’s Bride are glorious. The time period invites some suspension of reality, but it is forgivable. What makes the female-centric novel even more interesting is that author Madeleine Brent was actually a man named Peter O’Donnell (1920-2010) writing under a female pseudonym. I knew this going into the book, but was even more impressed while reading it. Lucy Waring’s sentiments and reactions “feel” female, without being insulting or stereotypical.
I highly recommend Moonraker’s Bride. This was a book I could not put down. It was also a book I immediately missed when I completed it. As an FYI, it is out of print, as are all of the books by Madeleine Brent (a tragedy,) but used copies are available on both Amazon and alibris.com.