Mum tried for years to interest me in O Douglas’ books but it took a lot of persuading before I finally delved in. Of course, once I’d taken the plunge, I couldn’t understand why I’d hesitated. The books are a real surprise: they look like they’ll be a bit saccharine and old-fashioned even for their time (mostly the inter-war period) but Anna Buchan was no-one’s fool and she had a firm grasp of what her world was really like. I love them all and chose The Setons after some thought. Elizabeth Seton is an engrossing companion, one I don’t tire of. She’s a minister’s daughter living on the south side of Glasgow, looking after her widowed father and much younger brother. In many ways it’s a domestic tale of its time but it’s not at all stuffy and is peopled by some wonderful characters. It’s set just before, and in the early days of, the First World War and was published in 1917; thus it honestly captures the feeling of the day and has no happy ending but only unanswerable questions.
Murder on the Flying Scotsman by Carola Dunn is set just after the War but was published this century. It is the fourth in the series about Daisy Dalrymple, scion of the nobility trying to earn her own living as a writer in London. Daisy has an unbelievable tendency to become involved in murders – merely as a witness I should point out! In the course of the first book she meets Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of the Met, and their relationship is a feature of the series. Murder on the Flying Scotsman introduces his daughter Belinda into the action and she plays a prominent part. I’ve read my way through the whole series now, having discovered them this year, but I particularly like this one both for its murder mystery and Daisy and Alec’s developing relationship.