If you have been kind enough to read some of my early books, you will know that my female protagonists are as keen on the game of cricket as any man. Just because Harriet Rowsley lives in 1861 doesn't stop her loving it. But she has had the misfortune to be born into a time when the door has closed on women's participation in sport.
Catherine Morland – the heroine of Northanger Abbey – happily climbed trees and played baseball (!) and cricket. But 50 or so years later women are supposed to be delicate flowers, prone to swooning. Given the corsets they wear this is hardly surprising.
The first scene I saw in my head as I sat down to write A House Divided is the one that opens it. A small, elegantly-dressed woman takes a life-saving catch. And she and I both know it is the worst thing she can do.
Why? It seems that Queen Victoria is not the only Victorian lady to be 'not amused'. And just as the Devil makes work for idle hands, judging by her fellow guests he makes work for idle tongues too. She's in for a bad time in this book – and it's all Matthew's fault…
1 November 2022
With twists and turns aplenty, Cutler's variation on the classic locked-house mystery combines the requisite cast of colourful characters — in particular, the amiable sleuths — with a vivid depiction of upstairs-downstairs life in the Victorian era. Booklist
This is Judith Cutler's fourth detective tale to feature Matthew and Harriet Rowsley. As with the preceding books, it works perfectly well as a stand-alone. Historical details are informative and accurate, and I was delighted to read of Harriet's bowling expertise, with its nod to the roundarm action pioneered by Christina Willes in the early 1800s.
The plot unfolds through the first-person narratives of Matthew and Harriet. This engenders a sense of immediacy, emphasises the warmth of their relationship, and foregrounds the equality they enjoy within their marriage. A variety of nineteenth century orthodoxies and anxieties are deftly explored, but the story always takes precedence over social comment.
In A House Divided the author has delivered an entertaining tale through economical prose that complements the mood, setting and characters she creates. The result is thrilling, engaging and enjoyable from beginning to end. Highly recommended. Dot Marshall-Gent, Mystery People