“Barbara Taylor Bradford” is all some readers need to see on a cover to want to read a book, and indeed, Cavendon Hall will meet fans’ best expectations. We readers step into start of the twentieth century, into an Earl’s family and grand old home, and see both sides at once: the staff’s sharp view as well as the view from ‘the family.’
Cavendon Hall is home to two families, sharing a symbiotic relationship – the gentry, the Ingham family and their long time, endlessly loyal Swanns. What sets this two families apart is mutual recognition and appreciation between those families. Unlike the more typical masterclass, the Inghams exhibit great appreciation for their staff.
Appreciation sometimes borders on great reliance, even attachments…but the mutual attractions do not always come with mutual benefits. The interplay of human drama here starts years–perhaps decades–earlier, as the current patriarch speculates about his father’s involvement with the incredibly loyal and brilliant Charlotte Swann. However, if there is one thing Swanns are careful about, it’s gossip…so we only slowly uncover the depths of the relationships here.
Odd characters with odd problems keep the story unpredictable: Why is the crazy local gypsy hanging about? What is wrong with the unlikable lady of the house, Felicity? And the lovely young Cecily, who yearns to be a dressmaker and seems so enthralled with a certain young man; can her dreams come true?
When disaster strikes the beautiful Daphne, favorite of both families, both immediately step up to protect her, and she needs protecting from both her attacker and the judgmental eyes of society. If I had one complaint, it would be how quickly answers to her ‘problem’ are suggested, although of course it might only be that I didn’t wish the story to end! There is more than one ‘knight in shining armor’ here, and more than one devil… even the lesser servants don’t escape the notice of the author!
Cavendon Hall is a romance with a depth and wealth of character within its characters: this is one of those books you read and want to keep reading, and in any moment when you must set it aside to do something else, you will yearn to keep reading.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.