Monday, June 4, 2012

Wentworth Hall by Abbey Grahame

Published: May 1st, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 276
Rating: 4/5
Eighteen-year-old Maggie Darlington has turned into an entirely different person. The once spirited teen is now passive and reserved. A change Lord and Lady Darlington can’t help but be grateful for.

It’s 1912, and the Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall have more than just the extensive grounds to maintain. As one of Britain’s most elite families, they need to keep up appearances that things are as they have always been… even as their carefully constructed façade rapidly comes undone.

Maggie has a secret. And she’s not the only one… the handsome groom Michael, the beautiful new French nanny Therese, the Darlingtons’ teenage houseguests Teddy and Jessica, and even Maggie’s younger sister Lila are all hiding something. Passion, betrayal, heartache, and whispered declarations of love take place under the Darlingtons’ massive roof. And one of these secrets has the power to ruin the Darlingtons forever.

When scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, everyone is looking over their shoulder, worrying their scandal will be next. Because at Wentworth Hall, nothing stays secret for long. [Book Description from Goodreads]
“And you thought there were secrets at the Abbey…”
For those of you who are still in the dark after reading that sentence (which appears on the front of Wentworth Hall), it’s a reference to Downton Abbey, the much-talked about British TV show (which I’m sad to say I’ve seen little of, and won’t be seeing too much more of due to, um, inappropriate content *coughcough*). Point is, that sentence, which implies this is a book filled with juicy gossip and whispered secrets, along with the short summary I read, hooked me almost immediately. Not to mention the cover (I fell in cover love yet again!). I just adore it- the four people, who are most likely Therese (or Nora), Maggie, Lila, and Michael, all staring off in different directions. And the girls wearing those gorgeous vintage gowns! Sorry for the gushing, but I’m still fresh with emotion from this book. I’m still kind of inwardly freaking out that someone actually (finally!) took the initiative to add to the unfortunately measly pile which is young adult historical fiction. And I am quite pleased with this new addition.
As with any well-off family in the early 1900s, the Darlingtons are the talk of the town. Well, at least they are for now. Financial trouble rumbles on the horizon, and Wentworth Hall, the centuries-old mansion, is in desperate need of repair, but the family is far more concerned with other issues. Like getting Maggie married off. And entertaining the soon-to-be millionaire Fitzhugh twins. Then there’s this irksome business with the scandalous newspaper articles. Oh, the list goes on and on. As scandal soars, rumors are whispered and secrets are divulged, and much more is at stake than meets the eye.
One thing I loved about this book was that it wasn’t modernized. I’ve read what I call “attempts” at YA historical fiction, and they reek. Badly. Mostly because the author seems to think no one will be interested if she/he writes the historical facts accurately, like they’re supposed to be. So she/he tweaks. And tweaks again. And tweaks some more. Until you don’t have a historical fiction, but a new genre: modernized historical fiction (um, isn’t that an oxymoron?). My point being: Abby doesn’t do this. She may have slipped up now and then with the facts, but she didn’t twist them to make the story more appealing. Besides, who needs more appeal when you have all this lovely, juicy gossip floating around? *grins*
Which leads me to my next point- I simply love Nora. She’s the backbone of the gossip mill at Wentworth Hall, the frontrunner of the grapevine. Her curiosity and the way she thrives on gossip had me chuckling the whole time. Especially at the end, when Therese leaves her the letter: “Dear Nora, if you are reading this, then you have already snooped in my things…” I also like Lila. Yes; silly, naïve, somewhat-childish Lila. The most endearing thing about her was that she reminded me of Lydia from Pride and Prejudice. I felt I didn’t get as much engagement into Maggie’s character, but that’s alright. Michael, the lovesick puppy, was adorable at times, but in other places his dialogue seemed a bit overdramatic and unrealistic. Too flowery and Shakespeare-y. But it didn’t bother me too much; I brush it off as this being Abby’s first novel. The author definitely has potential in writing YA historical fictions, and I can’t wait to see what she’ll bring to the table next! I thoroughly enjoyed Wentworth Hall and recommend it to anyone who’s just beginning to explore this genre, or anyone who’s been dying for another decent YA historical fiction just like I was.
Quick Content Review: *may contain spoilers*
Language: Mild (Only one or two words)
Violence: None- Mild (Lord and Lady Darlington have a heated argument towards the end of the book; Lord D. handles Lady D. a bit roughly and Lady D. slaps him in return.)
Sexual: Mild- Moderate (It’s revealed that Michael and Maggie have a torrid love affair and a child results from a night they spent in the hayloft of the stables. Also, it’s discovered that Lord D. had an affair with a maid and got her pregnant. No details or description.)

1 comment :

  1. I've been wanting to read this forever! I'm so glad you liked it :)


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