Saturday, April 28, 2012
Book review: Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame
Wentworth Hall is set in 1912 England at the estate of the Darlington family. The estate has been in the family for almost three hundred years. The Darlingtons were once very wealthy, but most of the money is gone now, and the world is changing. Eighteen-year-old Maggie Darlington has recently returned from a year away in France, and to everyone who knew her, she seems quite changed. Maggie's younger sister, sixteen-year-old Lila, misses her old relationship with her sister and wishes her parents would see that she is growing up. Also living at Wentworth Hall are the two teenage servants, Michael and Nora, that the Darlington sisters grew up with, and used to play with as children, and Therese, the new nanny who returned with Maggie and her mother from France to care for the new baby, James. Shortly after the start of the novel, two wealthy teenage orphans, Teddy and Jessica Fitzhugh, come to stay with the Darlingtons until they turn eighteen and can claim their inheritance.
The story is mostly about how all of these characters have secrets that could cause a great deal of trouble if revealed. Some of these secrets I guessed in advance, but others surprised me. There's also a plotline involving someone in the household writing unkind satires about the family, which are published in the local newspaper. The satires, about the "Worthless Family," are included to read and are quite amusing, since all the details are so exaggerated - the grand house, which they can't afford to repair, is literally collapsing on the poor Worthless family!
Although Wentworth Hall is set in 1912 and there's very obvious class differences between the characters, other than that this book was rather light on the history, similar to the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. This book was a quick and fun read and had a satisfying ending. I'm tired of everything being a series so I liked that this book appears to be a standalone novel. I think a lot of different readers would enjoy this book - fans of Downton Abbey (since it's set in the same time period), readers who love historical fiction, and even those readers who don't usually read historical fiction but love stories with lots of gossip and secrets and scandals.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.