Friday, April 25, 2014

Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford | Review

Title: Cavendon Hall
Author: Barbara Taylor Bradford
Pages: 416
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Goodreads rating: 3.42 stars
Published: April 1, 2014
Source: Hardcover/Goodreads giveaway


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic saga of intrigue and mystique set in Edwardian England. Cavendon Hall is home to two families, the aristocratic Inghams and the Swanns who serve them. Charles Ingham, the sixth Earl of Mowbray, lives there with his wife Felicity and their six children. Walter Swann, the premier male of the Swann family, is valet to the earl. His wife Alice, a clever seamstress who is in charge of the countess's wardrobe, also makes clothes for the four daughters. For centuries, these two families have lived side-by-side, beneath the backdrop of the imposing Yorkshire manor. Lady Daphne, the most beautiful of the Earl’s daughters, is about to be presented at court when a devastating event changes her life and threatens the Ingham name. With World War I looming, both families will find themselves tested in ways they never thought possible. Loyalties will be challenged and betrayals will be set into motion. In this time of uncertainty, one thing is sure: these two families will never be the same again. Cavendon Hall is Barbara Taylor Bradford at her very best, and its sweeping story of secrets, love, honor, and betrayal will have readers riveted up to the very last page.

Cavendon Hall was kind of surprising.  Some elements of the story I was expecting, but others were quite a shock.  I have to admit, at first this was a little hard for me to get into, but, thankfully, that only lasted for the first 40 pages, although it was a little scattered towards the end and hastily concluded {Miles... Cecily... Delacy... ugh...}.  But I really did enjoy the middle of the book!

While the description says it follows the families and makes it sound like the book is about all of them, it more closely follows Daphne Ingham and the "life changes" she faces towards the beginning of the book.  Those changes effect not just her and her family, but the Swanns as well {who are basically like lower class extended family members - even the daughter of Walter and Alice Swann, Cecily, regularly has tea with the Inghams}, and this book shows how they all handle it and the repercussions that come along like ripples in a lake. 

The characters were loveable and written well, but they just seemed to be... lacking.  Then I figured out what it was - the author writes a LOT of over-explanations and reiterations.  It was a little annoying when they were repeating each other or explaining exactly what they were thinking or referring to, especially when it was about very obvious or trifling things.  Since I've studied WWI several times, I knew quite a bit about it, so having it all not only stated, but repeated sometimes directly after from another character, is a bit frustrating {which would be good for someone reading who doesn't know the history of WWI or that time period, but, again, they would not need all the reiterations}.

Some of the subjects in this were more adult, and all of it was written in a direct way.  It was actually a little awkward reading some of it, because I felt like such a voyeur, spying on these peoples' lives.  Which is weird, because I honestly can't recall a time I felt like that when reading a book.

Overall, I finished this with mixed feelings.  Like I said, it was a little hard to get into, plus the repetition and the hasty conclusion... even that being said, I still enjoyed a good portion of the book.  It was a fun read.

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