‘Mona’ and ‘True Love’s Reward’ are presented to the world as two separate books – the latter being the sequel to the former – but, because they tell one story, divided into two part of equal length at a place that really doesn’t feel like an ending before a new beginning, I am going to treat them as one.
Both books were published in 1891, and they were the work of a very, very popular author. They aren’t great works, but they are very engaging and very readable. They do what they do very well.
There’s mystery, there’s intrigue, there’s romance ….
Mona was raised by her uncle, but he fell in and died before he could sign a will and before he could finish telling Mona the story of he mother – who had died – her father – who had left – and the secret that he was holding until she grew up.
She was heartbroken, but when her uncle’s estranged wife had her turned out without a penny she drew herself up, with pride and with spirit, and set out to use her skill with her needle to support herself.
A position as a seamstress fell into her lap, but Mona realised that it might not be the blessing that it seemed to be. Because she believed that her employer was her father’s second wife. She knew that the lady would wish her ill – would quite probably do her harm – if she discovered who she was, but she also realised that her new job might offer her an opportunity – maybe the only opportunity – to uncover the secret that her uncle had been holding.
Mona was disappointed that her young man, the son of a wealthy jeweller, hasn’t been in touch with her since her uncle died. She didn’t know that he and his father had been stung by some clever and audacious thieves, and that he really had no way of getting in touch with anybody. And once things were sorted out she was living a different life in a different place under a different name, so it wouldn’t be at all easy for him to find her.
Would Mona uncover the truth about her family …. ?
What would the diamond thieves do next …. ?
Would her employer find out the truth about Mona …. ?
Would the young lovers be reunited …. ?
The story is very well plotted, with lots of twists and turns. At times it was predictable, and I caught echoes of other stories, but it was always engaging and there were more than enough tines when I was puzzled and intrigued.
At first I thought that Mona might be a little too nice, a little too good to be interesting, but she grew into a very fine heroine. She continued to be good, but she was ready to stand up for herself, she learned to be practical and capable, and she coped well with some very tricky situations.
Her young man became a wonderful foil.
And the jewel thieves continued to prey on high society – thay provided great entertainment, and a lovely contrast to Mona’s story.
Everything worked out as it should in the end. This is that sort of story. It’s very black and white.
There were some small flaws in the logic, but as a whole the story worked.
It was wonderfully diverting at a time when I wanted something not too demanding to read.