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Women, Class and Writing the Past - Louise Hare: Miss Aldridge Regrets & Rhiannon Ward: The Shadowing - Part of Derby Book Festival

£7

The Derby College Takeover is sponsored by Darwin Escapes

Two historical thrillers by two celebrated writers who share their experiences of writing about fascinating women who exist beyond the bounds of respectability.

Louise Hare's Miss Aldridge Regrets is a brilliant murder mystery set aboard the Queen Mary in 1936, combining music and glamour with a probing exploration of race, class and pre-WW2 politics.

Lena Aldridge is wondering if life has passed her by. The dazzling theatre career she hoped for hasn't worked out. Instead, she’s stuck singing in a sticky-floored basement club in Soho and her married lover has just left her. She has nothing to look forward to until a stranger offers her the chance of a lifetime: a starring role on Broadway and a first-class ticket on the Queen Mary bound for New York.

After a murder at the club, the timing couldn’t be better and Lena jumps at the chance to escape England. Until death follows her onto the ship and she realises that her greatest performance has already begun.

Because someone is making manoeuvres behind the scenes, and there’s only one thing on their mind... MURDER.

Rhiannon Ward's The Shadowing takes us closer to home. When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy's death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.

Haunted by her sister's ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant - both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn't had an outbreak for years.

Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?

As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost ...

12 - 12.50pm.