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IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES reviewed on Reviewing the Evidence

There’s a very insightful review from Larissa Kyzer on Reviewing the Evidence. She describes IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES as “the perfect of-our-moment set-up that would be compelling even if it weren’t for the crime plot”.

“As a rule, the fundamental premise for most mystery series featuring an amateur detective is a shaky one. After all, elderly spinsters, small town librarians, and mystery authors don’t generally live the kind of lives that lead them to get mixed up with one violent crime, let alone many. This, then, is one of the fundamental delights of Elizabeth Mundy’s debut IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES: her protagonist—the plucky and ambitious Lena Szarka—literally goes through other people’s dirty laundry for a living.

Lena is a Hungarian cleaner in London, living a version of that all-too-common and none-too-glamorous immigrant experience. Namely, she works exhausting hours at an unskilled, low-paying job while living with multiple roommates and dreaming of the day that she’ll finally get a foothold in her adopted home. Add to that the fact that she’s an Eastern European in post-Brexit London, forced weather all manner of oblique microagressions and blatant discriminations (“You’re Romanian, too, aren’t you? You come here to beg”), and you have the perfect of-our-moment set-up that would be compelling even if it weren’t for the crime plot.” Read more

 

How to create a heroine for our time – Writers & Artists

Before I even started writing my first murder mystery novel, I knew I wanted a strong woman as my heroine. I was sick of female victims suffering and femmes fatales seducing. I wanted a modern woman solving crimes.

So I was delighted to be asked to write a piece about creating a strong, modern heroine for the Writers & Artists website.

Read the full article here.

IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES reviewed in the Morning Star

I’m so pleased with this lovely review from Mat Coward of the Morning Star. He tells us that ‘this debut novel begins a series featuring an appealing, and more believable than usual, amateur sleuth.’

When I wrote IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES it was important to me that I showed a different, more positive side to immigration, and I’m delighted that the socialist paper the Morning Star has chosen to review my book. 

Let’s hope he’s right when he says that ‘it’s a long time before Mundy runs out of plots’!

‘LENA and Timea have know each other since they were children in a small village in Hungary.

In IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES by Elizabeth Mundy, a desire to see more of the world has brought them to Islington where they work as cleaners in private homes.

When Timea vanishes, Lena is convinced that one of her client has silenced her after she uncovered one too many secrets with her duster. The police don’t agree, so it’s up to Lena to find her friend

This debut novel begins a series featuring an appealing, and more believable than usual, amateur sleuth. The daily help set-up, along with the guest worker subculture, should mean it’s a long time before Mundy runs out of plots.’

The Morning Star

‘Lena is the Poirot of cleaners,’ says reviewer Liz Barnsley

This review on www.lizlovesbooks.com might be the best one yet!

Barnsley describes IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES  as ‘a wonderfully quirky, gorgeous crime drama with a main protagonist you can really get behind, some cracking dialogue, an intricately fascinating plot and really, despite the dark nature of some of the crime elements, a whole lot of fun.’

She goes on to say that ‘IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES has a beautifully immersive mystery element, a hugely refreshing change from your standard detective/Private Investigator/Lawyer route – Lena is like the Poirot of cleaners.’

You can’t ask for a better comparison than that!

Read the full review here.

IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES reviewed in The Sun

IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES had a lovely 4.5 star review from Natasha Harding in The Sun today. I’m absolutely delighted with her judgement: ‘Beautiful writing, a fine debut.’

‘LENA SZARKA, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, takes huge pride in her job – even though the people she works for rarely notice her existence.

When her friend Timea disappears, she suspects one of her clients. The police don’t share her suspicions so Lena beings her own investigation.

She quickly discovers a whole world she didn’t know anything about – and it frightens the life out of her

Beautiful writing, a fine debut.’

Elizabeth Mundy discusses body image and pregnancy in Woman’s Way magazine

I was delighted to write an article for the Irish magazine Woman’s Way. They asked for a strong opinion for their new piece ‘There, I said it,’ and I jumped at the chance to write about how pregnancy changed my attitude to my body – for the better.

Body image is a big problem.

Our bodies are where we live. Why do we want them to be small?

I’ve never felt more comfortable in my body than when I was pregnant: my shoes were too tight, my hats were, strangely, too small, and my thighs chaffed when I walked. But I didn’t care. I wore clothes that showed off the bump. I was fine with strangers commenting on how big I was. I didn’t care about people seeing me naked in the changing room at the gym. When I came to give birth they offered me a birthing pool. I stripped off all my clothes and hopped in, completely unselfconscious.

It didn’t last. Pretty soon afterwards I looked at my body critically again. Did I still look pregnant? Was I losing the baby weight slower than my friends? Why couldn’t I even fit my foot in my pre-pregnancy jeans?

In my twenties I was constantly on a diet. I wasn’t fat but I always wanted to shed another half a stone. I did the maple syrup diet, as made famous by Beyoncé Knowles. I bad temperedly snapped at everyone around me and gained two pounds. I did a juice fast and fainted on a train. I concocted a diet of my own invention that consisted of nothing but Cava (apparently the lowest calorie wine), dark chocolate (the healthiest way to satisfy a sweet tooth) and oranges (for the vitamin C). I got constipated, felt sick and gained three pounds.

At one point, I tried a diet tea and discovered that it tasted delicious when consumed with chocolate biscuits. I was pretty sure I’d scuppered my chances of it working, until the tea gave me horrendous diarrhoea. I lost weight dramatically, but it certainly was not worth it. I told a colleague: she immediately went out and bought some. Then she had to flee the office just as the worst happened. I told my mother. She sympathised, then couldn’t resist trying a cup. It was the same story, of course.

Why are we as women so obsessed about our weight? Why should our self-worth be determined by the number on a scale? Why do we want to take up as little space as we can in this world?

And all too often this desire to shrink tips over into illness. I had a friend at school who went from a healthy fifteen year old size 12 to a sinewy shadow of a girl in a matter of months. She’d only eat dried fruit, then she’d only eat vitamin pills. Eventually, close to death, she was hospitalised. As she recovered she lived in a halfway house for anorexics, bulimics and self harmers. The girls all grew close – but that had its pitfalls. If one patient broke down and cut themselves, it would start a bloody cascade of self-mutilation and starvation amongst the others.

That’s extreme, but I believe it’s a spectrum. Most of us are on it – if you’re waiting to start dating again until after you’ve lost a few pounds. If you feel the need to record everything you eat on an app. If you’re wondering where you can buy that diet tea.

And it’s a spectrum that’s caused by our obsession that our bodies should match an ideal. But it’s the wrong ideal for most of us. I didn’t have a model’s body when I was a teenager and I certainly don’t now. On holiday recently, I saw an ancient African statue of a woman who had clearly breastfed several children. It was its own ideal: a symbol of wisdom, experience and nurture.

I miss my pregnant body. It was liberating not feeling body conscious. My body was serving a purpose that had nothing to do with how I looked in a bikini. I can tie my own shoelaces again, but find myself sucking in my stomach when I walk past mirrors.

I wish I could always keep that body confidence. In fact, I wish all women could. Our bodies are more important than how flat we make our stomachs.  Our bodies are where we live. Why do we want them to be small?  Of course, being unhealthily overweight has it downfalls. But we’ve all got enough to worry about without longing to be half a stone lighter. It just doesn’t matter.

So when I came to write my novel, I decided my female heroine would not be body conscious. She’d be strong, determined and assertive. She’d have her flaws, or course, but her confidence would not be inversely proportional to her body weight.

 

 

IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES reviewed by the Daily Mail

IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES is reviewed by Geoffrey Wassell in the BOOKS FICTION CRIME section of the Daily Mail today. I’m thrilled that he says ‘Lena’s tenacity and common sense illuminate this engaging story.’

IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES
by Elizabeth Mundy

THE heroine of this debut novel is a Hungarian Immigrant, Lena Szarka, who works in fashionable North London, cleaning rich people’s houses. When her fellow cleaner, another migrant named Timea, goes missing, Lena immediately suspects that one of their clients is to blame. They all seem to have secrets to hide.

At first, the police do not seem interested, so Lena starts to investigate herself. Then Timea’s body turns up and the case suddenly takes a darker turn.

Lena’s tenacity and common sense illuminate this engaging story by the granddaughter of a Hungarian immigrant to the U.S., who now works at a London investment bank.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-5422889/CRIME.html 

Publication day has arrived!

It’s finally here. I started writing IN STRANGERS’ HOUSES in Spring 2013 on a stunning yoga and creative writing holiday with Philippa Pride, AKA The Book Doctor. I finished my final draft in early 2016, found a fabulous agent in the spring, a wonderful publisher that summer, finished final edits by the winter and now it is ready to go into the world!  Its beautiful cover is adorning the shelves of Sainsbury’s, Waterstones, independents and of course the virtual shelves of Amazon.

My baby son Teddy helped me celebrate at 3am this morning with a dirty nappy – he didn’t want me to miss a moment of publication day.

Thanks to everyone who has bought a copy so far – I hope you enjoy it!

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