• Paperback: 464 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (December 31, 2013)
Two remarkably different worlds—one of wealth and privilege, the other of poverty and desperation—are about to collide in one shattering moment in this mesmerizing tale of high drama, forbidden love, and families fighting to hold on to what they have
Upstairs: Lord Netherwood, a coal baron, earns his considerable wealth from the three mines he owns. Supplying a bustling industrial empire with the highest-quality coal keeps his coffers filled—money he needs to run his splendid estate, Netherwood Hall, and to dress his wife and daughters in the latest fashions. And keeping his heir, the charming but feckless Tobias, out of trouble, doesn’t come cheap.
Downstairs: Eve Williams, the wife of one of Lord Netherwood’s most stalwart employees, cleverly manages her family’s well-being on the low wages her hardworking husband earns in the mines. But when her ordered life amid the terraced rows of miners’ houses is brought crashing down by the twin arrivals of tragedy and charity, Eve must look to her own self-sufficiency and talent to provide for her three young children.
And soon the divide between “upstairs” and “downstairs” is about to close . . . and neither world will ever be the same.
It's the early 1900s, and the distinction between the classes is clearly defined. Lord Netherwood makes a fine living off the dangerous work of others in his coal mines. Now, he's struggling to keep his son in line. Tobias would rather sneak off with a young lady than take his role as the heir seriously.
Then there's Eve... married to a good man who works in the mines, she works hard to make their house a home and raise their three children. When tragedy strikes, she struggles to move forward. Thanks to a dear friend, Anna, she figures out how to use her talent for cooking to save her family.
Along the way, the two worlds collide. Eve's food draws the attention of those above her, and she finds herself mingling with blue bloods all the way up to the King. But there are those who aren't happy for her success, who seek comeuppance. Will she be able to hold her own?
Beautifully written and deliciously detailed, the scenery and situations spring to life from page one. The reader will feel transported to another time and place thanks to these vivid details and imagery. Although I found the beginning a bit slow, the characters quickly grew on me, especially Eve and Anna. When the book began to focus on Lord Netherwood and his family, I initially felt cheated because I was so invested in Eve's story. But it all comes together nicely by the end.
I look forward to finding out what happens to these wonderful characters in the sequel, Ravenscliffe (which I'm scheduled to review 2/13, so please check back here then).
Rating: 4 stars
About Jane Sanderson
A former BBC radio producer, married to author and journalist Brian Viner, Jane Sanderson has used some of her own family history as background for her first novel.
Find out more about Jane at her website and follow her on Twitter.
Thanks to TLC for my review copy.
Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.
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