The China Governess

The China Governess - Margery Allingham [These notes were made in 1990:]. I read this in the 1990 Avon reprint of the 1962 edition. Family secrets. A long-gone slum area, cleared after it was bombed in the war, holds the key to the identity of a young man brought up to believe he was probably the illegitimate (but still well-born) son of the brother of the man who adopted him. Fed this fancy by a romantically addle-brained nanny, he discovers its untruth and breaks off his engagement to the rich young deb of the year (who turns out to be quite a pleasant and sympathetic person.) Someone, it appears, is most anxious to suppress the real story, and several acts of vandalism and violence are committed, including the murder of an unpleasant and talkative relative. Our young hero, Timothy, looks in the way of being charged with all sorts of unpleasant things until it comes to light that there is another young man pretending to be the long lost son of Timothy's real father (an idealistic town councillor called Cornish). Anyway, that hardly does jsutice to a rather complex unravelling, not to mention some rather dramatic scenes. The China Governess of the title, by the way, proves to be a bit of a red herring; governesses always do seem to be involved in the family's unpleasantnesses one way or another (the one who was accused of murder a century ago was made into a china figurine, hence the title), but unless you want to call Nanny Broome and her fairytales "governessy", there's no real connection to the plot. Lighter than usual, with no real heavy decisions for Albert to make - in fact, he's rather more invisible than is common for him.