Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame, published by Simon and Schuster on 7th July 2012
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.
Fans of the great British period drama will love 'Wentworth Hall' which has all the same charm and distinction, along with absolutely gorgeous cover art. I picked this one up to read as soon as it arrived after having been enticed by the description of Downton Abby meets The Luxe. I also adore books which have a historical setting, as does this one which takes place in 1912.
It features the Darlington family of Wentworth Hall - older daughter Maggie who all the men fall in love with, younger sister Lila who feels forever in her shadow, older brother Wes and Mr and Mrs Darlington. As well as seeing events through their eyes, the story also encapsulates the experiences and lives of their servants. It was interesting getting to see what upstairs and downstairs life was like for all the characters and contrasting the privileged life of the rich with that of the poor .
Interspersed throughout the book are articles from The Sussex Courier newspaper. The mini-stories are a satire on the Darlington family and are both scathing and mocking. The big mystery surrounding them is who is the author. I had several guesses but none of them were right. I did think they seemed a bit unnecessary to the main story, although they were quite amusing and fun and illustrated nicely the destruction that gossip could cause.
Reading 'Wentworth Hall' felt at times like watching a soap opera unfold before my eyes with all the characters having a secret or some kind of scandal to hide. As we all know skeletons never remain in the cupboard forever and I knew they were all going to come spilling out at some point.
This was definitely the book for me! There was intrigue and scandal in abundance and secrets set to shock all. 'Wentworth Hall' was a fab read and I finished it in one evening because I was totally hooked. This book is perfect material for a Sunday night television show! As much as I loved it, I was also pleased to see that it was a stand-alone novel so everything was nicely resolved at the end.