Saturday, December 22, 2012
Harvest House Publishers
Publication date: January 1, 2013
For fans of the hugely popular Downton Abbey series, comes this equally enthralling story of the Danforth family of Ashton Park.
Among the green hills and trees of Lancashire, only a few miles from the sea, lies the beautiful and ancient estate of Ashton Park.
The year is 1916. The First World War has engulfed Europe and Sir William's and Lady Elizabeth's three sons are all in uniform--and their four daughters are involved in various pursuits of the heart and soul.
As the head of a strong Church of England family for generations, Sir William insists the Danforth estate hold morning devotions that include both family and staff. However, he is also an MP and away at Westminster in London whenever Parliament is sitting. During his long absences, Lady Elizabeth discreetly spends time in the company of the head cook of the manor, Mrs. Longstaff, who is her best friend and confidante. This friendship includes visits to a small Baptist church in Liverpool that exposes Lady Elizabeth to a less formal approach to Christian worship and preaching than she is used to and which she comes to enjoy.
Readers will follow Ashton Park's charming upstairs/downstairs characters through the perils of war and the affairs of the heart with relish--and with an eye to the sequel coming in Fall 2013.
Alright I'll admit it, I'm a huge fan of Downton Abbey. Nothing to be ashamed about that other than I hate to be part of the status quo. I was reluctant to read this book because I feel like Downton Abbey "like" books are quickly becoming a new trend in fiction. Trend or not, status quo or not this was an excellent book. I very much enjoyed it. Pura does a wonderful job of weaving a tale.
I do have a couple of complaints. At times I felt as if the story too closely mirrored Downton Abbey and I would have liked to see a little more uniqueness. That's not to say there aren't completely new story lines, because there are. This is a long book that reads more like an epic novel than the start of a series. The Danforths have 7 children and at different times in the book we follow all 7 separate lives. It did get to be a bit much. I felt as if I needed to read with a notebook nearby to make notes so I wouldn't forget who was who.
In spite of my complaints I loved this book and found myself missing it when I was done reading. The characters are well developed (all 100 of them :)) and the story lines will completely hold your attention. Settle in with some tea and a blanket in a sunny spot and prepare to fully enter the world of the Danforths. You'll be delighted that you did.
My thanks to Harvest House Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.