Author: T.J. Brown

Early Review – Summerset Abbey (Summerset Abbey #1) by T.J. Brown

January 10, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 2 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Summerset Abbey (Summerset Abbey #1) by T.J. BrownSummerset Abbey by T.J. Brown
Series: Summerset Abbey #1
Published by Gallery Books on January 15th 2013
Pages: 322
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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two-half-stars

Reminiscent of Downton Abbey, this first novel in a new series follows two sisters and their maid as they are suddenly separated by the rigid class divisions within a sprawling aristocratic estate and thrust into an uncertain world on the brink of WWI...

Rowena and Victoria, daughters to the third son of the Earl of Summerset, have always treated their housekeeper’s daughter, Prudence, like a sister. But when their father dies and they move in with their uncle’s family in a much stricter household, Prudence is relegated to the downstairs maids’ quarters, much to the girls’ shock and dismay. The impending war offers each girl hope for a more modern future, but the ever-present specter of class expectations makes it difficult for Prudence to maintain a foot in both worlds.

Vividly evoking both time and place and filled with authentic dialogue and richly detailed atmosphere, Summerset Abbey is a charming and timeless historical debut.

Rowena and Victoria, daughters to the third son of the Earl of Summerset, have always treated their housekeeper’s daughter, Prudence, like a sister. But when their father dies and they move in with their uncle’s family in a much stricter household, Prudence is relegated to the downstairs maids’ quarters, much to the girls’ shock and dismay. The impending war offers each girl hope for a more modern future, but the ever-present specter of class expectations makes it difficult for Prudence to maintain a foot in both worlds.

Vividly evoking both time and place and filled with authentic dialogue and richly detailed atmosphere, Summerset Abbey is a charming and timeless historical debut.

The year is 1913 and Sir Philip Buxton has passed leaving his two daughters all alone. Placed into the care of their Uncle until the time they decide to marry, their life becomes upended when they are moved from their home to Summerset Abbey. Victoria and Rowena are also separated from their friend Prudence. Prudence was raised alongside the girls their entire lives and they are all three as close as sisters can be. Their Uncle won’t stand for this continued treatment though as Prudence is a governess’s daughter by birth. The question remains why would Sir Philip raise her as his own to begin with?

The big hook for me that got me interested in reading this book was the comparison to Downton Abbey. I am a sucker for anything Downton Abbey and love historical fiction in general so I anticipated liking this immensely While I did enjoy this, I found there to be one huge difference between the two. In Downton Abbey everything is glamorous and you find yourself so envious of the people and this beautiful time period they live in. In Summerset Abbey I found myself feeling rather sorry for these girls and the things they were obligated to do based on customs. I rather think though that Summerset Abbey gives a more accurate interpretation of that time period as it likely wasn’t truly as exotic as it seems on television. For this reason I think many won’t appreciate this as much because, like me, I can’t help but love the glamorous façade.

The writing was entertaining but there were several times where additional descriptive details had been added that felt unnecessary and would have been better omitted. The mystery bit of the whole story could have been done much better as well. Nonetheless entertaining, I still felt I had the mystery solved weeks before these girls did. Considering this is a start of a new series, Summerset Abbey left off at a rather awkward point but definitely leaves you highly anticipating the next installment.

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