Abby Grahame lives in upstate New York. Her interest in historical fiction and British period dramas inspired Wentworth Hall, her first novel.
Gr 7 Up-Wentworth Hall, the Darlingtons' estate, crumbles around its owners, hinting at the turmoil ahead. The eldest daughter, Maggie, and her mother have returned from a yearlong trip to France along with Mrs. Darlington's new baby and the baby's French nanny. Maggie no longer has the carefree attitude she left with, and her sister and the staff, most noticeably Michael, the stable keeper, wonder why. As the family adjusts to the return of these two women, it is announced that two more houseguests, the recently orphaned and wealthy Fitzhugh twins, will be staying with the family. With the Darlingtons' own finances quickly diminishing, it is assumed that Maggie will marry the Fitzhugh son or an aging bachelor who lives next door. After the Fitzhughs move in, a local newspaper runs a column by a mysterious satirist who pokes fun at the Darlingtons' tattered home, their shallowness, and their secrets. Those secrets, including two illegitimate children, are slowly revealed during the course of the novel, which is set in the English countryside in 1912. Nora, a likable member of the service staff, bridges the upper-class and working-class worlds, but most of the characters and the gushy dialogue between Maggie and Michael quickly become tiresome. Teens who enjoy romance novels may be enthralled with the Darlington soap opera, which ends well for some. The predictable plot and lack of depth, however, will leave others wishing that they had chosen something else.-Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.