Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Review: Rutherford Park

Rutherford Park: A NovelAuthor: Elizabeth Cooke
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Berkley Trade

Snow had fallen in the night, and now the great house, standing at the head of the valley, seemed like a five-hundred-year old ship sailing in a white ocean

For the Cavendish family, Rutherford Park is much more than a place to call home. It is a way of life marked by rigid rules and lavish rewards, governed by unspoken desires

Lady of the house Octavia Cavendish lives like a bird in a gilded cage. With her family
s fortune, her husband, William, has made significant additions to the estate, but he too feels bound—by the obligations of his title as well as his vows. Their son, Harry, is expected to follow in his footsteps, but the boy has dreams of his own, like pursuing the new adventure of aerial flight. Meanwhile, below stairs, a housemaid named Emily holds a secret that could undo the Cavendish name.

On Christmas Eve 1913, Octavia catches a glimpse of her husband in an intimate moment with his beautiful and scandalous distant cousin. She then spies the housemaid Emily out in the snow, walking toward the river, about to make her own secret known to the world. As the clouds of war gather on the horizon, an epic tale of longing and betrayal is about to unfold at Rutherford Park.

Out there, alone in the snow, alone in the dark, Emily Maitland was walking towards the river.

Although it was early, Rutherford was not asleep. It was never truly asleep, for everywhere in that white landscape there was hard labor to keep the estate functioning.

You are a parody of yourself, Octavia thought.

The housekeeper abruptly let her hand fall. In the fire grate, the coal hissed. “Emily Maitland,” she said. “This is a God-fearing house, and God shall certainly strike you dead for your lies.”

Are you missing Downton Abbey? I know I am! If your answer to that question was the same as mine then you definitely need to pick up a copy of this book! Rutherford Park was blurbed by more than one source to be reminiscent of all things Downton. After finishing the book, I would have to say that I most definitely agree. The social classes, new money, old money, social issues, and the whole nine yards were huge topics for discussion in this book just like the television series. The story follows the Cavendish family, who reside at Rutherford Park, and who have tons of secrets to hide! William and Octavia Cavendish are the parents to three beautiful children, Harry, Louisa, and Charlotte, who each have riveting secrets of their own. If you love Downton Abbey at all, then this book is sure to rate high on your list.

Of course what I loved most about this book was its resemblance to Downton Abbey. Ever since watching this show I have been obsessed with the lifestyle and the issues revolving around the social classes. Those same issues appear in this novel as well. One must marry well. One must never allow friends of the same social class to see you hurt, upset, or bothered. And the list goes on and on. I would have to say that Harry Cavendish reminded me most of Mary from Downton Abbey. He was always getting into something and trying to test his father’s limits and warnings. He wanted a life for himself other than what his father had in mind, which made me think of Sybil. Harry was a bit of a rake, but given his position in life he was under a multitude of pressure from his father and family.

As with the hit television series, I loved the drama, secrets, and lies. The affairs, the secret lovers, the cheating, and again the list goes on and on. Octavia finds out shortly after the book begins, and this is in the blurb so I am not spoiling anything, that her husband, William, is having an affair. Octavia, who most people are leery of, saves face and handles this affair and all her husband’s secrets in the most suitable and classy way, as a lady of her social status she simply has no other choice. The actions and dialogue from all characters was completely mimicking of the time and social class. I loved every second of it. Elizabeth Cooke has a niche for writing 1920’s setting and drama!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Berkley Trade in exchange for my honest review***

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