Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: Cavendon Hall

Summary: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic saga of intrigue and mystique set in Edwardian England. 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.

Cavendon Hall is Barbara Taylor Bradford at her very best, and its sweeping story of secrets, love, honor, and betrayal will have readers riveted up to the very last page. - -St. Martin's Press

I have to admit that CAVENDON HALL by Barbara Taylor Bradford is probably not a book that I'd normally pick up; however, I decided to take a chance on it based on a friend's recommendation. Plus, I'm a big Downton Abbey fan and this book's description did remind me a bit of the television show because it features the lives of both the aristocrats and their help.

CAVENDON HALL is the first book in a new series by best-selling author Barbara Taylor Bradford. It tells the story of tow families, the Inghams and the Swanns. Charles Ingham lives with his wife and six children in Cavendon Hall where the Swanns have served for many generations. The two families have depended on each other for hundreds of years and even developed some special relationships.

Lady Daphne is the most beautiful of the Ingham daughters and is getting ready to be presented at court. However, a devastating incident occurs one afternoon that will forever change her life and possibly even the reputation of the entire Ingham family. Major changes are taking place in England as well as Cavendon Hall, and both the Inghams and the Swanns struggle to protect their families.

Overall, I did find CAVENDON HALL entertaining and I was glad I read this novel. There is no doubt that it is different from my usual reading fare; however, it still had some elements that I appreciate including secrets, intrigue, and betrayal. In many ways, this book did remind me of Downton Abbey, and because the show is between seasons, it was a fun way to experience Edwardian England.

I understand why Ms. Bradford is a best-selling author based on my appreciation of  CAVENDON HALL. She certainly knows how to create memorable characters and tell an interesting story. I liked so many of the characters in this story (and hated a few too!), and I especially enjoyed the relationship she created between the Inghams and the Swanns. There was also some romance in this book, but I didn't feel as if it was over-the-top -- just very sweet.

Maybe it's because I'm not the biggest fan of these types of stories, but I did find CAVENDON HALL to be a little predictable. Maybe it's because I have watched so many soap operas in my time, but this book did seem to have a few of the traditional plot lines that occur in almost every daytime or evening drama. There weren't any real surprises to me, but I suspect that's pretty typical for books in this genre.

Having said that, I ultimately did like the book because of the characters. I loved the Swanns and how loyal they were to the Inghams -- even though you could argue that the extent of their loyalty was a little hard to believe in some cases. In addition, I really liked Lady Daphne and how she handled all of her adversity.

Another fun aspect of this novel was the author's descriptions of the setting. I could picture Cavendon Hall and its grounds as well as all of the gorgeous dresses. (Thanks Mrs. Bradford for making a few of the Swanns be very talented seamstresses and designers!) It was easy to be swept away in 1910's England, and I also appreciated how she incorporated some of the World War I history into the story.

I enjoyed CAVENDON HALL and recommend it to fans of historical fiction as well as viewers who enjoy Downton Abbey.

Thanks to Get Red PR for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

Can you believe I've never seen Downton Abbey? I'm not a big historical fiction person but do need a predictable book from time to time.

Stacie said...

This cover is just gorgeous! I love Downton Abbey, so bet I would like the book too!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Love Downton (Kathy needs to watch them!) This looks good!

Beth F said...

I love Downton, so I can see why you'd give this one a try. I'm not sure the novel is for me, but I do love the TV series.

Nise' said...

I picked this book up because the cover grabbed me. I haven't read this author's books for a long time, but she usually writes family sagas and I enjoy those.