Of all the peculiar and eccentric Hathaway siblings, Beatrix is possibly the freest spirit, the one most unorthodox and unlikely to fit comfortably into the staid norms of polite Victorian society. She rescues strays and injured animals and nurses them back to health, and if they can’t be released back into the wild, then she adopts them as pets, to the mixed amusement and frustration of the rest of her family. Her mischievous ferret was partially responsible for the match her sister Poppy made with Harry Rutledge, and somewhat instrumental in the romance of her governess Catherine Marks and her older brother Leo, as well. Sensitive, philosophical and with a deep love of animals, Beatrix has always been able to charm men, but she is not what they would consider a good marriage prospect.
So Beatrix has pretty much resigned herself that she will become the spinster aunt, when she overhears her friend Prudence complaining about the dull letters from her suitor, Captain Christopher Phelan. One of the handsomest and most eligible gentlemen in Hampshire, Captain Phelan has been called off to fight the war in Crimea. Prudence finds his letters deathly dull, and being a vivacious and attractive beauty, she has many more suitors available to her at home. She has no real intention of writing a reply to Christopher. Beatrix, despite the fact that she overheard Christopher dismissing her as fit only for the stables at a picnic (a comment Prudence saw fit to share with as many people as possible, ensuring that most of the county knew about it too), realises that someone has to write to the brave young man, to comfort him in the hell he’s living. She convinces Prudence to let her write a reply, then they’ll sign Prudence’s name to it, and no one will be the wiser. How does it turn out? Read the rest of my review to see.