Neatly picking up from where One Enchanted Evening left off, Moonlight Over Mayfair is an engaging mix of romance, politics and dance.
What made Anton Du Beke’s One Enchanted Evening such a joy to read was the way in which it effectively brought together many different subplots under the roof of the Buckingham Hotel and tied them together brilliantly. This is something that he has managed to do with Moonlight Over Mayfair.
Set in 1937 and with rumours of a new war threatening to break out as well as a new king on the throne, tensions are running high in London and Europe but at the Buckingham hotel things are trying to run as smoothly as possible – but with more secrets than ever before is the downfall of the hotel itself a possibility?
Moonlight Over Mayfair sees the female characters pleasingly taking a more dominant role, with Helene torn between finding love and happiness at the expense of spending time with her daughter, Vivienne trying to put her stepfather’s money to good use and to find contentment away from her previous addictions and Nancy trying to face the possibility of losing her beloved Raymond to California. Each of the character’s strengths and vulnerabilities are wonderfully highlighted and given full detail that its impossible not to be drawn into their individual stories.
But equally, the author manages to satisfyingly capture the era and politics at that time, adding extra depth to what could have been easily simply a ‘fluffy’ story. By adding references to the IRA as well as characters who are interested in stirring up a Second World War, there is certainly an element of danger and uncertainty that runs throughout this book – particularly when a horrific incident happens at the Buckingham Hotel.
Everything is so richly described that it is possible that you are experiencing everything that the characters are going through.There is plenty of glamour, but this is also a book that highlights the class inequality between the super rich and those who are poor and vulnerable that can still be related to today. To see Vivienne transform from the spoilt rich girl of the first book into a compassionate and passionate champion of helping the vulnerable is one of the most satisfying plots in the book.
However, there are some characters whose plots feel as though they could have been developed further. In particular Nancy’s brother Frank could have been brought out of the shadows more – instead of simply focusing on his developing relationship with Rosa and his dancing lessons, there could have been more about how he settled into his role and listening in on conversations to report back to Maynard.
But despite this, this is another classy and enjoyable read from Anton Du Beke that effectively sweeps the reader into another era. A lovely sequel.
By Emma Clarendon
Moonlight Over Mayfair is available to buy now.