Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “Lady of Thousand Treasures” direct from the publisher Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
My favourite takeaways from my first reading of a Sandra Byrd novel:
I had noticed the quick-fire cross-references being mentioned throughout this blog tour on behalf of Mist of Midnight to lay a correlated thought of insight to the story if readers were familiar with Jane Eyre. I believe this is a bit of a misstep, as despite my fanciment for Gothic Lit intermixed into Historical Fiction, even I can appreciate how diversely eclectic and unique the offerings are within the genre-benders. It is a bit as to say that every Classic Psychological Suspense (i.e. Classic Horror) motion picture is going to be a cardinal carbon copy of the previous release. Although there are inherent similarities to Eyre or any novel within this subset of literature, there is a striking originality to Byrd’s narrative voice, and the way in which she stirs the setting to alight in your mind’s eye.
I did not hear any footfall or echo of Eyre’s voice in the character of Rebecca Ravenshaw, as instead, I heard Rebecca’s voice quite clearly on her own grounds. She’s a full-bodied character not a composite of a previous incarnation of a previous era’s most beloved heroine. The misstep for me is the presumption on what the story entails, as this isn’t a Governess tale, no, this is an inheritance and right of identity tale which pushes far past where Eyre ventured. Atmospherically I do agree, there are certain hidden clues and nudges to elude to where Eyre resided, but again, this isn’t a novel I’d cross-compare Byrd’s narrative, as it would deceive the readers who are wanting to soak inside it unless there is a definitive explanation about ‘what’ directly refers to setting and what is ‘different’ altogether in the story’s arc.
I found more crumbs of cognisant triggers of familiarity stemming out of Mists of Midnight to previous novels I’ve read by ChocLitUK and several via HFVBTs. More readily I would say the styling of how Bryd has writ her new series for the Daughters of Hampshire is a beautiful compliment to how ethereally and historically stimulating I’m finding the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber. Wordsmiths who breathe a stability of place, time, character depth and arc of journey will always leave me perpetually museful for their discovery. Byrd is amongst my top favourites for giving us a story which transcends straight out of where we’ve planted our seat to hold the pages, which as they are turnt, lead us into the murky shadows of where truth and light are sometimes cast in gray.
Each Gothic Lit Historical Narrative is wholly original into itself, as the creator who inked the words alighted upon the premise by a different series of avenues before committing pen to creation. The die is cast so to speak with a uniqueness that is not quite like another story, but whose individual elements can bewitch you with their cosy comfortness of relating a particular sensory experience you had whilst reading other novels within the genre.
I only took sparse pauses away from this novel, as I have the tendency to want to devour a text such as this, save for slumber and a quick nosh; devouring it’s elegant world-building, as it’s secondary characters who alight on the page as if their histories were being writ as they lived. I love seeing secondary cast members as fully true in their bones as their lead counterparts. There is a realism in having this underwrit into a novel, and I must say, Byrd has excelled.
– as disclosed on my review of Mist of Midnight,
Daughters of Hampshire, Book One
Lady of a Thousand Treasures
by Sandra Byrd
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.
The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harry—the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.
Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.
With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust—who in her life is false or true, brass or gold—and what is meant to be treasured.
Places to find the book:
Also by this author: Mist of Midnight
Published by Tyndale House Publishers
on 9th October, 2018
Format: Trade Paperback
Formats Available: Trade paperback, ebook and audiobook
Converse via: #SandraByrd, #VictorianLadies + #HistRom or #HistFic
on why i love this story involves “collecting”:
I grew up in a family of collectors – my parents and my maternal grandparents alike loved to ‘collect’, inasmuch they encouraged me to find what I loved most to collect and to pursue the collection with a joyful heart. Quite early-on, my first collection became my personal library – the stories which were nearly too difficult for me to get invested were soon beloved treasured companions, best friends and endless hours of ‘adventuring’ here, there and everywhere! I would re-read stories as often as I felt the characters were slipping through my memories and I wanted to proper re-visit to re-acquaint myself with their lives.
As my grandparents collected Japanese art, my parents loved a wide mix of art, artisan crafts and folk art – thus giving me a very well-rounded appreciation for ‘collecting’. We’d regularly visit fine art galleries, artisan galleries, art/folk craft fairs or festivals and a myriad of unique places in which to find pieces you can collect and artistically become the style of what you admire most in the vast world of art and collecting. They even loved attending auctions – which became a firm fixture of my early teen years – wherein I loved learning more about vintage purchases, classic pieces (from dishware to proper china) and antiques of every nature and variety! We also frequented more than one antique store or emporium where you can walk into a discover of sorts of era, historical artifact and the allure of finding pieces (of furniture, jewelry, art and everything inbetween!) you simply cannot get elsewhere!
As I became an adult, my passion for antiques never waned and this is one reason why I love the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series: Garage Sale Mysteries as the lead character runs an antique store! I also now am the proud owner of my first vintage typewriter (a lovely Royal) from either the end of the 1930s or the start of the 1940s! This is only one of I hope to become five or ten – as I know I won’t collect as many as Tom Hanks but similar to Hanks, I have a passion for the typosphere and the analog way of typing correspondences, fictional stories and poetry in equal measure of importance.
There is something rather lovely about finding things which feel new again in our generation – even if they haven’t been seen for five decades or longer! I even love vintage cameras which tell their own stories and are still as functional as typewriters! Therein, as I was reading the Author’s Note, I simply smirked myself into a smile – a knowing smile and enjoyed peering into Ms Byrd’s fond affection for a part of my own life which is a treasured memory of golden happiness.
My Review of Lady of a thousand treasures:
As I have the readerly tendency to read all the ‘extras’ inclusive to a novel first, I learnt why Ms Byrd dedicated this novel to the person she did in the Appendixes prior to opening this to the first page. It was through my readings in the back of the novel (first) where I gleamed not just the importance of her friendship with this doctor but also, how supportive he was to her career – whilst I also noted how much we both appreciate yesteryear and the championing of antiques, antiquities and the ways in which the past funnel back forward into our lives at moments we’re not truly expecting them to leave such a strong impression!
Understanding whom of her characters inside this story were based on living persons and what motivated those inclusions was wicked folly – as I hadn’t realised how much about art & art history would play a key component to the story and the arc of the suspense knitted into the background! Keenly thrilled to have requested this to read without knowing too much about the premise ahead of time – I also was happily surprised finding it was also about art theft and the deception of fraud in the world of art.
Towards that end – there are a few films I love which parlay into the world of art: “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1999); Two if by Sea (1996); “Entrapment” (1999) and the very sombering and heart-wrecking “Woman in Gold” (2015).
Such a presumption on behalf of the late Lord Lydney! Thinking himself to be in a position to know the heart and mind of Eleanor after he’s passed – to tackle not only the preservation of his entire collection but to act on the knowledge she was meant to be the deciding factor of declaring his son either competent for his inheritance or if she were to err with caution, erasing his distinctive legacy (the collection itself) and donating the whole kit to a museum where it shall be preserved, admired and justly protected. I would not have wanted to step into Eleanor’s shoes – the courage it would take just to accept the undertaking was one thing, how to ascertain a semblance of truth out of the accusations and then, form an unbiased choice?
Eleanor was blessed with an understanding close confidante in Marguerite who not only knew how to rib her along in a dashing game of humour and side-liners of observation – but she knew how to ask Eleanor’s mind on any particular subject irregardless of how much discomfort Eleanor was personally feeling in any particular regard. The main obstacle of course standing in front of her is how to do all of this with the tenacity of a businesswoman taking over her own father’s company and working in such a tight space close to a previous beau who left her without a will to re-think resuming her dating life. Harry was singularly a bloke who could crush a heart and leave it unable to become repaired.
You could sense the isolation Harry had felt – as his time away from Eleanor had not been kind to either of them but for Harry, as his intentions were soon found to be unknown to Eleanor – his remorse was rather dear but what can you do to erase the memories of the recent past? How to unwind the unkindness of hours which wicked away a budding relationship? It is uncertain if either of them can find a way towards reconciliation but what you see in this meeting is their willingness to at least hash out the details of what brought them apart and to leave with a hopefulness I don’t believe either of them really felt.
The only grievance though with this perceptional insight is what followed in its wake – of how we see this situation re-spun by a different perspective altogether – starting to find ourselves questioning the truthfulness of Harry’s declarations and the remorse he seemed to have such a genuineness about feeling! I am unsure who was more confused – Eleanor or myself! True to her strengths – she was not deterred from the job set before her to do: sort through the collection and determine where it would best be housed for the duration it was maintained. It was a lofty goal in so many ways – to inflict either resolution or denounce a young bloke’s inheritance are not tasks to take lightly and yet, if you were to pull your mind round the questions, how then could one person determine another’s fate if the first person in the position to do just that opted to take the easy way out? You have to wonder what Harry’s father was thinking – though, due to his illness, I had felt he might not have thought any of this out at all!
As we tuck close to Eleanor, we find there is more behind the recent events than we could have imagined for ourselves of being true for her – as it gets to the root of why certain men never propose and why they cannot reveal their innermost feelings. At least not in a way which would compliment a woman who can do this with ease, such as Eleanor. For her though – inheriting the family business, of finding value out of the past and the objects others love to collect – was a pursuit of joy and felicity for her to continue. What she found most earnestly reprehensible is trying to sort through what is real, what is false and what is a blurred reality from everything she used to rely on as her own living truths. About herself, about those she cared about and everyone else of whom she might encourage to have a closer relationship than one forged out of business.
One of the hardest circumstances of our lives to overcome is being keenly invested in interests which others might not consider to be proper for women. In this, I was hugged close to the pages to see how Byrd would address Eleanor’s growing fascination and confidence of stepping outside the shadows of the men (of her family, of local society) and finding herself amongst equals – especially those of other women who not just shared her passions for collecting but were equally employed to carry forward the field she herself so proudly occupied!
Within these pages, Byrd hints towards a wider net of women who are as enthusiastically involved in similar work to Eleanor whilst also proving that many of them are non-conventional in their own rights! It would take society I would imagine quite a considerable waiting period to move from partial acceptance to extending invitations to women for gatherings and information exchanges than it would for them to recognise the women could be commissioned to do half the work as the men regularly do themselves when it comes to chasing down an items provenance!
A struggle for Eleanor was finding peace within her memories – of finding transitional moments where she would not suddenly feel inclined to disappear backwards into a flashback of memory – presented so vividly real, she could not help but re-feel the emotions and ache for the loss all over again for her father. She shared her sorrow with her Uncle – who similar to Uncle Billy in It’s A Wonderful Life was not the most trusted person in her life as it might have unintentionally placed them at higher risk than usual. Despite everything, Eleanor took most of life in stride – choosing to see a solution where none existed and remaining hopeful even if there wasn’t a lot to hold her onto that belief there was still hope left to be had.
I would imagine the greatest hardship in a case like this one, where Eleanor had to catalogue and account for over a 1,000 individual pieces – the trickiest part b;y far was to sort out if any singular item or pairs of items were remiss? The time it would involve would be rather impressive as well – as these were not cross-indexed by computer back in the 19th Century! Still. She had a strong eye and a willingness to never feel defeated even if you worried she might abandon this newfound well of strength & courage if only she could feel with a freedom she never felt as the fears she was being forced to swallow due to changes in circumstances.
Not only does Byrd highlight how a woman could rise in the ranks of authenticating works of provenance outside the shadows of men but she also implores you to retreat back through the histories of how women forged a path into medicine. I love narratives like these as I previously championed how they showed this through the tv serials Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman and Murdoch Mysteries most recently in regards to Julia’s character but also, as a secondary focus in the latter seasons to highlight how not all opportunities for women were as equal to how Julia became a medical examiner. In Byrd’s case, she is proving how women had to seek for the path which did not exist and sometimes find surprising results which would lead them forward into the field but not quite the way they or their peers would have guessed possible! I love this angle of things because it also helps encourage others who are coming up next behind us to constantly realise you should never feel defeated in the pursuit of your own dreams – it only means you have to remain vigilant and resourceful to acquire them!
You really had to have an agile mind to think fast on your feet if a person challenged you to prove you knew your salt in the field – something Eleanor and Mr Clarkson do on more than one occasion! He’s an interesting fellow – a bloke who works in the family firm but of whom tries not to overshadow Eleanor, even though you have the feeling he feels the need to prove himself to her – whether this is strictly for the benefit of securing his position or perhaps as an entry towards giving Eleanor a chance to see him in a light outside of their field was not as readily known. One thing is for sure – as the way he was being portrayed and viewed, there was a part of me who was slightly curious of Clarkson’s motives, almost as if I was second guessing what he was saying on the surface of things and wondering what his truer motives actually were.
Likewise, when it came to Harry – he was a hard bloke to pin down! You have his spoken word to justify the judgements placed against him but it was truly a difficult ordeal to shift through what he is personally disclosing vs the evidence which contradict what he is attempting to defend of his own character. The interesting bit with Harry is how there were differences in his personality – how he seemed to be more like a chameleon when life suited and altered both his approach to certain obstacles and how he presented himself to the world. Never quite one to feel you could give your full acceptance as there was the needling reality of staying curious: does Harry speak the truth or does he speak the truth he wishes you to accept but without full disclosure?
As their lives continue to pair together – a more crucial emergency was how Eleanor had to deal with her Uncle – his continuing issues of health and how his health was affecting their estate, their company and even their standing in the community. Byrd focuses on how sometimes health can play a more major role in our relationships – it can be a quickening of issues which your not quite prepared to handle and sometimes, the answers you need to better understand how to help the person in your family is not always readily available either. In these scenes, Eleanor is both compassionate and accepting of how her role in her family has gone from being a companion and working partner to the person who needs to lead her family into the future. The realities of how she is almost quite alone now without support is part of what I loved about the story – it showed her frustrations and her heartache for the changes which she could not stop nor remedy but it also showed what she was made of – how you have to step with courage even if you do not feel courageous to meet life’s demands.
This is why I love reading Sandra Byrd as she gives you a fiercely strong narrative – with a keenly Feminist angle of the historical past and places us in throes of a dramatic story-line we soon do not wish to exit!
The art is a key part of the story but so too are the people and their lives echoing strong in the background of the suspense! You are pulled in through the emotional attachments Byrd has knitted out through her characters – she charms you with her impression of the Victorian era and she settles your mind into this setting – drawing you closer to the truth and giving you an entry into this series which will satisfy you until the second installment arrives! She writes about life, family and the curious ways in which we must act our conscience, feel our faith threading through our lives and be bold in how we approach whatever comes our way – to be resilient but also to be vulnerable to the experiences we are not ever quite ready to greet along the corridors of our lives.
on why i love the historical styling of ms byrd:
It was readily hard to imagine I haven’t had the proper chance to pick up another novel by Ms Byrd since  when I first read Mist of Midnight – as I was so eager to await the second and third installments of the series! However, I checked tonight – finding the whole series is on audiobook and can be streamed via #Scribd and I believe I shall be taking that option! Something to look forward to as Autumn shifts into Winter! For now, I was overjoyed I could read the start of her next series and return to the language and mannerisms of speech I previously enjoyed from reading a Byrd novel! She makes certain choices which dearly align you most readily into the era she’s chosen to write inside – giving the level of ambiance you enjoy.
She is also one of the authors listed on my self-directed reading challenge of *70 Authors* where I am focusing on a particular list of INSPY authors to be reading over the course of the next five years. I recently reset my challenge along with my Classics Club reading queue as the first five years did not quite go as I had planned.
Byrd challenges you as you’re reading – first by spinning the story to move into one particular direction and then re-shifts your alliance a bit to see all the events from a new perspective which draw into question thoughts you hadn’t quite filled to mind until you saw this secondary understanding of what was previously disclosed in another vein of thought! The truth in the pudding though for this situation she’s created for Eleanor to have is not one which is easily resolved nor understood – it is almost a true leap of faith moment. Where Eleanor should remain rooted to task and as she’s moving through the duties she must endure, to seek out the truth once more and see where everything lies from there!
I truly applaud Ms Byrd for including Charlotte – her personality (as described) had such a winsome habit of giving you the strong impression Charlotte could make friends with anyone but with Eleanor it was more like a kindred spirit – a chance in a lifetime to find someone else who understood your own desires as well as you understood yourself. Their budding friendship also proved that despite feeling as if you were a rare bird in your generation, there are others out there who share your common interests even if finding them is slightly more difficult than you once perceived.
I ought to mention, I read this novel whilst listening to the “Classical Highlights” station via iHeartRadio as for whichever reason I could not launch Spotify! I found the musical selections were a lovely compliment to the Victorian era Ms Byrd described and set well with the flow of her pacing – so much so – you could readily see how this musical soundtrack could befit a story about art & the thievery the art world has had to endure for centuries!
This blog tour is courtesy of:
I am putting together a lovely conversation with Ms Byrd celebrating this new series & the story within the first installment ‘Lady of a Thousand Treasures’ – come back round to Jorie Loves A Story in early November (the 9th) to see what we talked about and where our convo lead next!
I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.
I’m a social reader | I tweet my reading life
— Spooktastically, Jorie🧛🍂 (@joriestory) October 19, 2018
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: