REVIEW: The Green Empress by Elizabeth Cadell
The Green Empress coaches specialised in taking clients of wealth or importance across Europe in luxury. When Angus Graham became “liaison officer” for one of these coaches he did so lightheartedly, but the dangers and difficulties of the journey were only compensated for by the charming presence of Lord Lorrimer’s daughter Angela. The mysterious happenings and complications shows Angus that things aren’t always as they seem.
This is …. not quite what I’ve come to expect from an Elizabeth Cadell book. Instead of a humorous look at people often at gentle cross purposes, it’s a mystery of sorts. First one must mentally travel back in time to the late 1950s when the book was originally written and imagine a world wherein there was a market for luxury bus travels across Europe. But not just any touristy travel but rather more like people going to a specific destination but who are also going to enjoy a scenic route as well. Hmmm, gone are the days for that I think.
Soon after the journey starts, strange things begin to happen. At first seeming random events mystify the tour bus liaison – please, he’s not a courier – Angus Graham but others soon have theories about how these things might be connected. Meanwhile, a woman from Angus’s past is determined not to let him slip through her fingers again and Angus finds himself determined not to be let slip. Okay, that’s also different from all the other Cadell’s I’ve read – granted which is no where near all of them. Usually a Cadell hero lets story events make it almost to the end before he can decide what his feelings are.
I did find the social transitions taking place in the decade after World War II to be interesting. It’s obvious that things are changing and that Britain is just beginning to climb out of the rationing and loss of jobs that followed the end of the war. Angus is one looking for a job and faced with having to travel abroad. Angela talks about how her grandparents would never have worried about how to pay for a child’s public school education, while her parents used their principal to do so and her generation will need to scrimp. The passengers are embodiments of various ages and social groups of Britons from younger Angus and Angela who embrace everything and view it all as an exciting adventure to a retired Admiral who longs for his kippers and garden and who I frankly wondered why he bothered to leave England at all.
The mystery is finally solved but in a way that even for one who adores how convoluted a Cadell wrap-up can be things got weird. The romance, which had been just corking and delightful, takes a turn and I’m still a bit mystified by how it all ended. I get that I’m supposed to buy that everything is hunky-dory now but the problem is that I don’t. There are things left unsaid that I needed said and conversations that ought to have been there which aren’t and I’m simply not happy with how we get to “The End.” C