I thought this book would be like Downton Abbey, but as if Cora hadn't had any money to save the estate. In one respect this is right, because the eldest daughter, Emerald, is the hope of the Torrington family -- if she can snare a wealthy husband, they'll be able to save the family home. However, any resemblance to DA ends right there.
I'll back up and give a better synopsis -- it's the weekend of Emerald Torrington's ninteenth birthday, but her stepfather is missing the party, since has to go off and try to borrow money to save the family's estate, Sterne. It's to be a small party, just a couple of old friends, Patience Someone-or-Other, and her mother, and at the last minute, a handsome young landowner, John Buchanan, is given an invitation as well (since he has a LOT of money and is fond of Emerald). It's a small shindig because the family can barely afford to pay for servants and coal, much less updating the house with electricity and modern plumbing.
However, things begin to unravel. Patience's mother begs off with influenza and sends her son Ernest instead, and meanwhile, a railway accident has sent dozens of survivors up to the estate with nowhere else to go until things are sorted out. What started out as a quiet weekend party for six or seven people quickly spirals out of control, especially when one of the railway refugees turns out to be someone from the family's past.
This book had a lot of potential -- a historical book about a country house in England, one of my favorite settings, and some interesting and quirky characters. Unfortunately, I thought the story itself began to spiral out of control. I could spot some plot developments right away, and I thought the author got carried away with the quirkiness, bordering on absurdity. One of my favorite blogs, Books as Food, described it as "Downton Abbey meets the Addams family," but to me the story just got silly, and towards the end I just started skimming pages to get through it. And I thought the ending was just odd.
I still want to read more historicals this year -- I have quite a few on the TBR shelves and even though I've made barely any progress on my historicals challenge, I've nearly finished all the other so I might make of a go of it anyway.
What about you, bloggers? Read any good historical fiction lately? Or is everyone sick of the Downton Abbey hype?