Review Blog

Sep 13 2012

Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

cover image

Simon and Schuster, 2012. ISBN 9780857079169.
An unabashed devotee of historical fiction, this reader leapt at the chance to review this novel - purportedly a Downtown Abbey aimed at the YA market. Hmmm, well, after a very slow start, one started laughing and was surprised as one didn't expect it to be a spoof. Oops, apparently it's not meant to be!
For those of a certain age, or those who enjoy revisiting vintage British programs - recall if you can, The Forsyte Saga - yes, that's right the black-and-white series from the 60s, based on the novels by John Galsworthy. Melodrama, hammy acting, every cliche known to humanity. Now combine that with perhaps The Bold and The Beautiful - histrionics, hokey performances, every banality known to scriptwriting.
Shallow characters, slight plot (eventually) hanging by a thread, and of course, the usual plethora of family secrets, unpleasant people, illegitimacy, unwanted suitors, star-crossed lovers - you name it, it's there.
One doesn't like to disparage a first novel - after all, it has been considered worthy to publish - and apparently, Ms Graham is enamoured of historical fiction, albeit may it be suggested without real in-depth knowledge or research. For example, in the early 20th century when the class system was still very entrenched in England, it would be hard to believe that a very young maid raised by charity within the one stately family home would be able to quote Shakespeare or articulate with a vocabulary that would be more at home with an Oxford scholar. It is not suggested that this shouldn't be put on the library shelves, but please don't expect quality literature - essentially, a slight novel that may divert a girl looking for a undemanding read.
Sue Warren

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