This is a story of the downstairs staff in a country house and the solving of the mystery of a missing jade necklace. Jane Pinny is a housemaid who gets a new job in the large household of Mr. Kirby-Trott. Coming from a small town the house is quite a shock but Jane is determined to get on and finds everyone welcoming, even the frightening looking butler, Mr. Pritchard. Jane’s diary, which tells this story, is written for her by the pigeon Plump and he is instrumental in finding clues as to the mystery of the mistress’s missing necklace.
This is great fun as one would expect from Philip Ardagh and Jane is an endearing and spirited heroine. There is a goodly amount of information about the life in a Victorian house below stairs, and the black and white wash illustrations add to the fun of the story. There are a lot of footnotes giving the historical background though I am not sure they are necessary: the skill of an historical novel for any age, is that the background information is imparted within the frame of the story and this happens within the text of this one. But the yellow sticker on the cover states ‘only the facts are true’ so maybe the author/editor thought them a necessary gimmick. This is the second in a series and I for one, would hope that there would be more tales of Jane Pinny.