Bring together socialites on what is to be known as the tragic party of 1815 and you are sure to have a story. The Duchess of Richmond's ball was the place to be, that is if you are of importance. When unexpected guests arrive it's a meeting of the upper class and middle class. That mixture is sure to make a mess of things for those who are living to be known by who surround them.
The Trenchard family have an invitation in hand. Mr. Trenchard is just as excited as his daughter to attend this grand ball. Mr. Trenchard has high hopes. He is hard working and is striving for the best of the best. He thinks highly of himself and sees nothing wrong with mingling with the people he serves. Mrs. Trenchard sees things much differently. She thinks there has been a mistake and this invitation just has to be a misunderstanding. She has a fear they will be the fools at the ball. So much drama right here in the mix of this family.
Two families of different social class, different, but yet so alike, two young people in love separated by society's class, and a secret that comes alive, bring this novel to life. A ball that brings people together in celebration and a war that will separate in sorrow bring us to know these characters of a different time and place.
First of all, if you are searching for Downton Abbey, this is not it. Downton Abbey is in a league all its own. If you're expecting a Sunday evening love affair with Downton Abbey this just isn't to be. I think this is where many will fall short of enjoying this novel. We see the author's name and have an expectation that this novel will carry us to another Downton Abbey. This stand alone novel has its own style and will bring its own joy to the reader.
Sometimes we search for a novel to just allow us to escape, relax, and dream of another place and time. The writing is easy. The characters are not complex. The story line is one we have come to know. In this case we don't necessarily have the upstairs and the downstairs coming together, but the very rich and the not so rich. Drama, drama and more drama. We have people wanting what they want when they want it and for some how they get it doesn't really matter. Some are noble and walk with integrity while others are greedy and careless in thought.
There comes a time when romance will cross family alliance. Families will lose those they love. Inheritance has it's power that creates manipulation that far reaches the heart in love. We have villains who scheme and defy all that is right. But we too have those who stand with integrity and nobility. These are characters who actually grow on you. At least they did me.
It's this secret that keeps this novel moving. The characters don't necessarily jump off the pages. Fellowes gives us just enough to allow room for our imagination to take over. We see just enough heart to draw us in to see that life here isn't so different than that of today. Amazing what family will do to preserve a secret or for some to get that secret out. Either way, either choice, change is coming that will explode what once was protected.
This is a light and easy read. One that a cup of tea in the cool of an evening will give the perfect amount of escape. I enjoyed going back in time and meeting characters that aren't so far off from reality today. Good prevails over evil and love conquers all. Standing with honor always wins out over trying to be something you aren't.
This novel was a gift from Hatchette Book Group for sharing my review with you.
Julian Fellowes is a multi-award winning actor, writer, director, and producer. As creator, sole writer, and executive producer of the hit television series Downton Abbey, Fellowes has won three Emmy Awards. He has written two internationally bestselling novels, Snobs and Past Imperfect, and the screenplay for Gosford Park, for which he won an Oscar. He has writing credits for many other films, including Vanity Fair, Young Victoria, and Romeo & Juliet. He became a life peer in 2011, and lives in Dorset and London with his wife, Emma.