‘I was a junior lady’s maid. Brilliant and beautiful. But still just a child. What did I know of murder and mischief? Nothing, that’s what. Until now.’ That’s Ivy Pocket at the start of her adventure and in her own words. She’s a twelve year old lady’s maid with vast amounts of self-confidence, a gloriously deluded view of how others see her, and an endless supply both of bizarre practical remedies and ridiculous invented personal histories. You can rely on Ivy to call a spade a spade, or to describe her employer the Countess Carbunkle to a roomful of dinner guests as ‘a fine horsewoman in her day (who) can drink like a fish and who like many true aristocrats has a drooping bottom lip and no real chin to speak of, making eating soup both difficult to achieve and unpleasant to behold.’ It says a lot more about Ivy that she’s surprised when the countess gives her notice after this.
Jobless and stranded in Paris, Ivy is only too glad to accept a commission to deliver the priceless Clock Diamond to London, which is when the real adventures start. There’s something strange and supernatural about the diamond, and Ivy is soon up to her neck in the afore-mentioned murder and mischief, and experiencing some very spooky ghostly visions too. She finds work with another set of aristocrats, as snobbish a bunch as you’re likely to meet – even Ivy is hard-pushed to keep them in their place – and the mystery develops nicely with a real sense of foreboding
So far, so irresistible. It’s a shame that in the final chapters the plot veers off in some very surprising ways as last minute revelations are made, and indeed a whole new world is introduced.
But even with that slight quibble, I can recommend this wholeheartedly. Readers are unlikely to encounter many heroines as lively, entertaining and downright original as Ivy, and her ebullience, bravado and particular world view carries all before her. There’s no-one like Ivy Pocket.