Shadow of a Lady by Jane Aiken Hodge (Hodder & Stoughton £2.40) Emma Hamilton continues to pose a conundrum to the historical novelist, and Jane Aiken Hodge has attempted to supply another possible answer to the riddle of her character.
In this novel, set against the background of the uncertainties and terrors of European life just after the French Revolution, Emma herself is not the heroine, but provides an intriguing background to the adventures of the principal character, Jane Telfair.
Jane's adventures include finding herself in a British warship during a sea battle with the French, narrowly escaping from a Vesuvian volcanic eruption, and making a swift getaway from Naples in the company of the Queen and other members of the Neapolitan royal family, with Lord and Lady 'Hamilton, and under the protection of Nelson himself.
The background has been well researched and the details are convincing. The plot moves along at a spanking pace. In addition to her other adventures Jane is raped, forced into a marriage of convenience and almost loses an inheritance. This is good reading for addicts of historical fiction.