Author: Deanna Raybourn
Provided Synopsis: Midsummer in Victorian England—an auspicious time for a wedding. Brisbane has taken charge of the music. Julia has, perhaps mistakenly, allowed her sisters to choose the dress. And Belmont Abbey is overflowing with guests awaiting the blessed day. What could go wrong?
Combine the close-knit chaos of village life, pagan traditions bursting through staid Victorian conventions, and the congenial madness that tends to swirl around Lady Julia’s family and you get an unforgettable wedding. But add in a dangerous past nemesis who has come to wish them not-so-well, and their day to remember just might take a fatal turn…
Review: With Midsummer Night, Deanna Raybourn has achieved what is very close to the perfect novella. Fans of the Lady Julia series will surely want to know about Julia and Nicholas Brisbane’s wedding, and since all of the hilarious and eccentric March clan is involved in the day, the short story lives up to expectation.
I think the great success of this novella is that it does not revolve around a mystery. The Lady Julia series fits within the historical mystery genre, yet Raybourn allows Julia and Brisbane to have their day. A murder and investigation would have never fit within the joy of the occasion or the constraints of a novella’s size. It was the absolute right choice to focus in on the things that were relevant: the mutters from society and family because Julia is in love with a man who is half-Gypsy, or the dislike of his family as he prepares to marry someone who is not of his kind. Nothing was overdone in matters of family and resolutions were just right. All of the characters involved had already been established with back stories and personalities, which meant the author could jump right into the story she wished to tell and have it all make sense.
Did I like the brief inclusion of a nemesis from a past investigation? Not particularly, since it seemed unnecessary even if you wanted some aspect of subterfuge. But I can overlook this since it will never be an aspect of the novella that I will remember. I will remember the wedding, the family, the charm, and the happiness of two people who have waited a long time for each other and who have been allowed by their creator to grow on their own until they could see each other. Well done!