Review Blog

Sep 13 2012

Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

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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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