This slight Downton Abbey knock-off takes place at Wentworth Hall, home of the Darlingtons, a down-on-their-luck noble family with nothing much left but their title. The book is full of the same sort of scandals that haunt the Granthams of Downton: illegitimate children, love between the classes, unfortunate matches with self-made men. Woven between chapters is an amusing society-gossip column about the Darlingtons, written by a mysterious someone with an inside scoop on their secrets — easily the best part of the book.
You guys, this book is shockingly poorly edited. Simon & Schuster should be ashamed of themselves. The publicist sent me a review copy, but it’s a final, not an ARC. And yet a character describes herself as “neither fish nor foul,” and Grahame can’t get two interchangeable servants’ names straight:
“Deja vu!” explained Grace.
“Excuse me?” Mrs. Howard asked, arching one eyebrow as though Helen had said something a bit racy.
The dialogue is clunky and does as much exposition as forwarding of the plot. Characters come and go without leaving much of a mark on the story or reader. And it probably isn’t fair to say this since I have no evidence other than the lack of an Acknowledgements section, but I suspect Grahame’s period research consisted entirely of watching BBC America.
Simon & Schuster offered me a giveaway as well, which was very generous. But in the end I couldn’t really justify promoting the book here, even to get free books for my lovely readers.
Also reviewed by: Rebecca’s Book Blog