This is a delightful, breezy read, romance-adjacent without actually being romance. It’s the late 1940s in London. The War is over, the men are home, but rationing is still in effect, and there’s rubble from the Blitz everywhere. Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge work together to run a matchmaking agency: the Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Miss Sparks, we understand, was involved somehow in the covert part of the war effort, and Mrs. Bainbridge is a war widow with a young son. Both women are doing their best to earn a living independently. Unfortunately, when one of their clients turns up murdered, and another client is presumed to be the murderer, this does not bode well for the future of the business. Iris and Gwendolyn decide that their only choice is to investigate for themselves in order to clear their client’s name and save the business.
This time period right after the War is so much more compelling for me than WWII itself. You get the rebuilding, the fixing, the dealing with aftermath – and the novel does a fair amount of that. We have a lot of survivor’s guilt, and trauma, and I found that the author handled all of that in a remarkably sensitive fashion. Iris and Gwendolyn are making their way on their own in a time period where that was really only starting to be a possibility for single women.
I also enjoyed the snappiness of the writing and dialog. I could totally imagine this as a black and white screwball comedy starring Katherine Hepburn, or the like. The plot moves, the secondary characters mostly avoid caricature, and the book has a ton of heart.