Now out: The Secret Guests A Novel by Benjamin Black

Many readers will know that literary fiction author, John Banville, uses the pen name Benjamin Black. As Mr Black he has written a well regarded series of mysteries that take place in 1950s Ireland.

This historical/suspense novel also takes place in Ireland. It is a dark time for Britain as bombs regularly fall in London. Based on what the author thinks happened, this novel posits that fourteen year old Elizabeth and ten year old Mary were sent to Ireland to keep them safe.

This slow burn of a novel imagines how this was done, what it was like for the princesses and who the people were who ensured their safety. They are challenged.

Margaret, renamed Mary, to keep her identity hidden, is a particularly vividly drawn character. She is inquisitive and a bit of an imp. Elizabeth/Ellen as the older, more staid sister is also brought to life.

There is a plot against the princesses. Who knew they were there? Who is responsible? We all know that Margaret and Elizabeth survived so the reader knows the ending. Nonetheless, the unraveling is suspenseful.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this read in exchange for an honest review.

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