Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Title: Cavendon Hall
Author: Barbara Taylor Bradford
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: April 1, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "Cavendon Hall is home to two families, the aristocratic Inghams and the Swanns who serve them. Charles Ingham, the sixth Earl of Mowbray, lives there with his wife Felicity and their six children. Walter Swann, the premier male of the Swann family, is valet to the earl. His wife Alice, a clever seamstress who is in charge of the countess's wardrobe, also makes clothes for the four daughters. For centuries, these two families have lived side-by-side, beneath the backdrop of the imposing Yorkshire manor. Lady Daphne, the most beautiful of the Earl’s daughters, is about to be presented at court when a devastating event changes her life and threatens the Ingham name. With World War I looming, both families will find themselves tested in ways they never thought possible. Loyalties will be challenged and betrayals will be set into motion. In this time of uncertainty, one thing is sure: these two families will never be the same again."

My Two Cents:

"Cavendon Hall" marks the first book that I have ever read by Barbara Taylor Bradford, a very prolific writer. In this book, she tells a sort of upstairs/downstairs tale of a grand house in the early 1900s in England. The house has been in the Ingham family for years. The Swann family has served the Ingham family for years as well. This book has a lot of drama and reminded me somewhat of Downton Abbey because of the they upstairs/ downstairs aspect but with a little less drama.

I did like the characters in the book but wanted to know much more about them. I was left with more questions than answers. There is a huge cast in this book and Bradford starts setting up some storylines that may go in to future books but because the stories and descriptions are not particularly robust, the reader is kept at arm's length in some places in the book. I really wanted to understand a little bit more about the motivations for each particular character. I am hopeful that maybe some of this will be addressed in future books (as Bradford points out in the Author's Note, this is only the first book in a planned series). Much of the book focuses on Daphne, one of the Ingham's daughters. The Earl, her father, has high hopes for her but things change quickly in this book (I don't want to give anything away).

It is really difficult to have such a large cast and give them each their due. I liked the writing but because there were so many new characters to introduce, it sort of felt like the story jumped around quite a bit. I also wish that the book would have had more historical detail. The Ingham's and the Swann's lived during a fascinating time but we don't get to see much of that at all! Overall, I would try more of Bradford's writing in the future but this was merely an average read to me.



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