Saturday, January 12, 2013

ARC Book Review: Summerset Abbey

Summerset AbbeyAuthor: T.J. Brown
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books
Series: Summerset Abbey # 1

1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of society and the distant rumblings of war. . . . Rowena Buxton

Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “underclass” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie.

Victoria Buxton

Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret—Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever. . . .

Prudence Tate

Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as lady’s maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls. And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey

“Rowena stood and faced her uncle. ‘We were so suitably introduced to society! Both Victoria and I were presented to the Queen, as is proper, but neither one of us wanted a coming out ball. We detest that kind of showy, excessive waste. Did you know you could feed one hundred families for a year on the money spent just on the flowers for one ball? We did our duty by attending the occasional society or charity function, but we simply weren’t interested in that sort of thing. Our father respected that.’” – ARC Copy pg. 17

“Victoria stared her down and Elaine had the grace to blush, letting Victoria know she had been right. Somehow Elaine knew more about Prudence’s situation than she was letting on. Did that mean her uncle had sent a telegram about it? She wasn’t sure what was happening at Summerset, but Victoria intended to find out.” – ARC Copy pg. 45

“The names were familiar to her from years of walking through similar forests with her father, listening to him practice his lectures. His passion as he talked botany had been infectious and she loved nothing better than studying plants, growing them, and cataloging them. Watching seeds burst into a plant that would flower and reseed was to watch a never-ending cycle that both reassured and delighted her. She wondered whether there were any woman botanists. She should have asked her father. Her dream seemed very far away today.” – ARC Copy pg. 69

“‘Perhaps your father was optimistic in believing that things were different between the classes, because it seems to me that in places like Summerset, things are very much the same. Andrew may be a footman, but he is a very nice young man and remember, I am nothing but the daughter of a maid turned governess. And now, as you well know, I am a ladies’ maid.’” – ARC Copy pg. 181

In the first book in an exciting new series we are given the accounts of three very different young women who share secrets and grief after their father’s passing. Rowena and Victoria Buxton are not your average turn of the century women. They have no desire to be the ideal “woman” who is married and assumes a position as woman of her home, while always following at least two steps behind her successful, prestigious husband. Rowena and Victoria have dreams and had a father who always pushed them to pursue any desire that they held within their hearts. Prudence Tate has been with their family since the girls were just toddlers, her mother having been their governess, and now they see her as a sister; so when her father’s death and will throw a wrench in their plans and threaten to change all of that, secrets are revealed that have been buried for way too long.

Honestly I couldn’t tell you that one character was my favorite. The best thing about this book was the vast array of characters, especially the sisters and their close knit relationship. Not to mention that Summerset Abbey was the absolute perfect setting. Here we are in a huge house with tons of characters and a mystery to solve. The novel did switch point of views a lot, but only among Rowena, Prudence, and Victoria. Once the three girls arrive at Summerset Abbey to live with their uncle, per request of their deceased father, Prudence is treated as a ladies’ maid and is forced to live amongst the servants of the house. So we get the point of views of Rowena, Victoria and their malicious Uncle and Aunt as well as the servants of the home. Meanwhile secrets that Rowena and Victoria’s Uncle and Aunt have been hiding for years slowly begin to surface.

The mystery in itself was somewhat predictable but actually took a turn that I was not expecting. All you know from the very beginning is that Aunt Charlotte, Rowena and Victoria’s aunt, is not fond of Prudence in the least and will stop at nothing to have her removed from Summerset Abbey. Unveiling the secret was the best part because Victoria, the younger sister, takes on this job. She, being highly intelligent, picks up from day one that something is not as it seems at the manor and she wants to get to the bottom of it. I couldn’t put the book down by the time I reached the last half of it because I just had to know the mystery was!

The relationship between the girls is so strong in the beginning of the book, but by the end things seem like they are on shaky ground. I felt so sorry for Prudence and the way that she was treated at Summerset. She was never raised to be a servant and event the servants were rude and disrespectful towards her. The book ended with tons of questions left up in the air, but thankfully I only have to wait until March to find out what happens next! I loved this book and I can’t wait to own the series!

***A huge thank you to the publishers at Gallery Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, the January edition of Books You Loved is open for entries. Here is the link Books You Loved January Edition Please do pop by and link in a post about a book/s you loved. Maybe this post? Cheers and Happy New Year!