Utterly delightful Victorian romance novella with tremendously likable characters and an unusual, truly fascinating deep dive into the world of that era’s illustrated weekly periodicals, like the fictional Allan’s Miscellany, based in part on Punch. A key part of what made this work for me is that Sarah, an aging spinster in her family, resigned to caretaking, doesn’t think of herself as beautiful, and Pel (Lawrence Pelham) is very, very nice. The complete opposite of the domineering types one finds too often in the genre. I absolutely loved them.
Schwab makes all the tiny, repressed, moments of physical contact allowed between Victorian men and women into shimmering, seismic events. I highly recommend and I’m looking forward to reading the other books in this series.