‘They’ll find you love even if they can’t find it for themselves‘
– Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau
[ About Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau ]
April McVey hasn’t a romantic bone in her body. So how has she found herself at the door of Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau, job application in hand?
Matchmaker Martha hopes the lively Irish girl will breathe fresh air into a business struggling to keep with the times amid the tumult of 1930s Britain.
So when lonely widower Fabian arrives at the bureau, the pair’s matchmaking skills – and professionalism – meet their first true test.
[ My Review ]
Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau published March 2nd with Harper Collins Ireland and is described as ‘a charming and witty romantic comedy about friendship, loneliness, and the unexpected places where we find fulfilment.’
Delightful, entertaining and cosy would be three words I would use to describe Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau. Set in the 1930s, with a host of wonderful characters, Sheena Wilkinson has captured something really wonderful with this book. As the name suggests it is a story about a marriage bureau based in a rural town in England. Martha Hart lost her husband during the First World War after a very short marriage. Over time the idea blossomed to start an agency of her own, one where she could help men, injured through war, to find suitable women to marry. These women would look beyond their disabilities and see the man for his true self. The agency had muddled along for years, but now Martha wants to shake it up a little. She needs to hire a new assistant and, as luck would have it, she discovers the perfect candidate in April McVey.
April flies through the interview and Martha is secure in the knowledge that she has chosen well. April is from Northern Ireland and has a different approach, with some of her methods jarring to Martha but she also has drive and passion for the job. This burst of new energy reinvigorates Martha and together they make some small changes in order to drive more business their way.
April makes it clear from the very beginning that she has no interest in marriage. Never short on suitors, she has always been more focused on her career. Her own family history has left its mark and now April wants to create a new home, a new life for herself as an independent woman. But, as the days pass by, April begins to question her choices and attempts to understand what it is she is truly looking for.
My Final Thoughts:
Sheena Wilkinson has written a very astute tale, depicting that specific period of history with a great sense of authenticity. Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau is a novel that feeds the reader’s need for comfort and joy, while also highlighting relevant societal themes of loneliness, financial woes, grief and so much more. That sense of pre-war unease, as the influence of Fascism starts to take hold, filters through the plot adding a heightened awareness of what lies ahead for these people whose lives we share for a brief time.
Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau is a very engaging and joyful read. It is a book that traverses all generations with an elegant tale written in such an immersive style. Full of heart, it is a gorgeous, uplifting and sincerely charming read.
[ Bio ]
Sheena Wilkinson is the author of eight novels, including critically acclaimed and award-winning books for children. She teaches creative writing in many settings, from universities to prison, and lives in County Down.
Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau is her first novel for adults.
Twitter ~ @sheenawriter
Website ~ https://www.sheenawilkinson.com/