Summerset Abbey (double review)

Since I read these back-to-back, and the story flows so easily from book to book, I'm pairing my reviews.

Summerset Abbey
TJ Brown
Gallery Books, 2013

(Quick commentary: While I love this cover, and that dress is striking, it is like nothing worn by any of the characters during the course of the novel. Just saying...)

Edwardian England. Not an era I know a lot about, but that didn't come close to detracting from my enjoyment of the story of three young ladies who are not your typical Edwardian society girls. Rowena and Victoria Buxton, and their might-as-well-be-sister Prudence Tate, have just been moved from their cozy London home to the sprawling family estate - Summerset Abbey - to live with their aunt and uncle (the Earl of Summerset), following the death of their father. Sir Phillip raised the girls to be educated, outspoken, and not bound by the rigid rules of society. In stark contrast, Aunt Charlotte is a stickler for society's boundaries, and the girls find themselves in a world that tests their faith - in each other.

Filled with details of an elegant, bygone era (teas, and dances, and the clothes!, oh my) teetering on the cusp of modernity, Summerset Abbey is a tale of both the changing times as a whole, and the personal development of three very different girls. The characters are well drawn, and the tensions and chemistry/interactions are so true-to-life. While Rowena's listlessness and apathy got a bit on my nerves, Prudence's struggle to find her place and Victoria's passionate outspokeness won my interest. There are multiple storylines going on, but not so many that it gets confusing. It made me think of big family gatherings, where everyone is talking at once, trying to get everybody caught up on everything that's happened. But with grace and elegance, of course. Not a bad beginning for what I hope turns out to be a great historical trilogy.

Book provided by my local library.

Summerset Abbey: A Bloom in Winter
TJ Brown
Gallery Books, 2013

(Again: Stunning dress and cover, but not exactly fitting the story. Ah well.)

Picking up not long after Summerset Abbey leaves off, the stories of Rowena, Victoria and Prudence continue to develop - and complicate. Rowena finally gets interesting (ha), and finds herself with a "fake" engagement. Victoria turns her spunk into secretive daring, and almost gets herself killed in the process. And Prudence, ah Prudence, struggling to figure out who she is and where she belongs - her heart finally finds a sense of peace.

A Bloom in Winter feels more historical somehow, with a greater blend of Society functions and looking at what's going on in terms of changing times. Victoria's work with the suffragettes brings to light hidden working aspects of the world, as well as demonstrating that sometimes peoples' passions carry too far. Rowena begins coming to terms with her place IN Society - she was born to a certain role and position, and while she can have ideals and hopes to make changes, she will do so much better from within her elite position. They're growing up, and in doing so becoming more dimensional - and understanding. As before, the entire cast of characters are interesting and dynamic -- I especially love Kit -- and the setting is so elegantly foreign. An enjoyable read, and I look forward to seeing how the trilogy concludes later this year.

Book provided by my local library.

1 comment:

  1. I thought Summerset Abbey was okay so I didn't jump to read the second-sounds like it gets better! I also didn't realize the third book was releasing this year-I think it's a great idea to have all three books out the same year if possible as us readers aren't super patient.