There is a clever mystery in this delightful historical novel, but the real pleasure is in watching Princess Alexandrina, or Mink, adapt to her new home and neighbors. When her father, the Maharaja of Prindur, dies in a spectacularly scandalous situation, Mink loses her home to his debtors. The Princess is offered a home at Hampton Court Palace, as a grace-and-favor residence from Queen Victoria. The residents are either loyal or royal enough that their welfare and poverty are Victoria’s concern.
There is an “Upstairs Downstairs” air to this story as Mink and her Indian maid, Pookie, learn the ins and outs of life in the castle with the eccentric residents, their servants and the ever present, sometimes seen, ghosts of residents past.
Stuart weaves the mystery, the death of a particularly odious resident, through a tale full of Victoriana: funerals, social etiquette, marriage, public behavior, holidays, fashion, food and medicine.
While the story is complete in the book, there are indications that the author may revisit these lovely characters again as part of a series.