This is the second book I read from the author Elizabeth Chater. I didn’t like the first one, Bait for the Tiger that much. I was a bit reluctant to read this one, but The Elsingham Portrait surprised me positively. At first, the story didn’t get a hold of me. But after a while, I became interested and read the novel with growing appreciation.
The story is about Kathryn Hendrix, who expects a proposal of marriage from her friend Don. The same day he stands her up for a luncheon date and Kathryn is very embarrassed, she shelters in a gallery from rain. There she sees the Elsingham Portrait. A portrait of Nadine Elsingham, not a very attractive lady, married to Lord Elsingham. Then it happens: Kathryn and Nadine trade places. Kathryn goes back to the year 1773. Needless to say that is somewhat of a culture schock for Kathryn as well as well as the people who surrounded Nadine.
At one point Kathryn finds an ally in her caretaker Bennet and flees to the hometown of Elsingham Manor when there is talk of put her in Bedlam, a hospital for the mentally ill.
Then her old caretaker, Donner tracks her down. Mrs Donner is an evil woman, who knows how to charm the well-intentioned people. Of course, Lord John Elsingham comes to his senses in time and rescues Kathryn just in time. And as there is nothing and no one for Kathryn in the 21st century, she decides to spend the rest of her life in the 18th century.
As I said, it took me a while to like the book. But the story gets more interesting when the switch to the 18th century takes place. Then, an exciting story starts to develop with a few implausible facts/events. Then again, this often makes a story enjoyable to read.