Romance / Family Drama
Post WWI / 1920s
This is a romantic drama set soon after the Great War - and it is one of the best novels of its type I have read for a while. Pace. Plot. Emotion. One of those books that show self-published writers are every bit as good as traditional mainstream.
Christopher Shipley is a rich industrialist's son who returns damaged from the war with the expectation of running the estate and marrying a bride chosen by his social climbing mother. What does he want of life? How can he make it worth living again? He has survived despite all the odds so his life must be worth something.
His mother asks him to evict the gamekeeper's wife, an elusive and seductive
woman, Martha, who is also damaged - she had an abusive marriage and was beaten by her husband, and admits she is glad he is dead.
A relationship becomes a romance, believable, despite the class differences, until Christopher's mother reveals a terrible secret to stop any prospect of an unsuitable marriage.
This isn't literary fiction, it is good, old fashioned romance, where the pages fly because the two engaging and believable characters draw us in, as does the snobbish mother. It is a very good story. The writer has learnt her craft and has plotted the novel with care.
One very small criticism is that there are perhaps just too many hurdles for our lovers to overcome, and a little more research on social customs was needed - women of that high status did not summon servants by a bell, they were always present in the dining room and cocktails were rarely served before dinner but before dressing for dinner, but these are very minor points which in no way alter the fact that this is a good book.
© Jeffrey Manton
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