Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ravenscliffe by Jane Sanderson (3.5 stars)

About Ravenscliffe

Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 28, 2014)

For fans of Downton Abbey . . . The peaceful beauty of the English countryside belies the turmoil of forbidden love and the apprehension of a changing world for the families of Netherwood.

Yorkshire, 1904. On Netherwood Common, Russian émigré Anna Rabinovich shows her dear friend Eve Williams a gracious Victorian villa—Ravenscliffe—the house Anna wants them to live in. There’s a garden and a yard and room enough for their children to play and grow.

Something about the house speaks to Anna, and you should listen to a house, she believes…Ravenscliffe holds the promise of happiness.

Across the square, Clarissa and her husband, the Earl of Netherwood, are preparing for King Edward’s visit. Clarissa is determined to have everything in top shape at Netherwood Hall—in spite of the indolent heir to the estate, Tobias, and his American bride—and much of it depends on the work going on downstairs as the loyal servants strive to preserve the noble family’s dignity and reputation.

As Anna restores Ravenscliffe to its full grandeur, she strikes up a relationship with hardworking Amos Sykes—who proposed to Eve just one year ago.

But when Eve’s long-lost brother Silas turns up in their close-knit mining community, cracks begin to appear in even the strongest friendships.

As change comes to the small town and society at large, the residents of Netherwood must find their footing or lose their place altogether.


Instead of summarizing the story, since it's so eloquently done above, I'll begin with my thoughts. Like Netherwood, Eve Williams #1, this novel is intricately detailed and beautifully written. Not for a moment did I doubt the author's commitment to authenticity. 

For me, complex characters are the heart of a great read, and there's no shortage of them here. Eve is the center of both stories--she's found new love after great loss, but she's still struggling. Her relationship with her son is particularly poignant. However, I found myself more interested in her friend, Anna. Based on the back cover, I thought the story would focus on her earlier than it did.

As in book one, I found myself much more engaged when the story focused on the lower class residents--since they are clearly the focus of the story, I have to wonder if that's the author's intent. 

Although I enjoyed this novel, it suffered a bit from sequel expectation. However, I would not hesitate to recommend it to readers who love historical fiction, beautiful writing, and complex characters. 

Rating: 3.5 stars

Please read my review of Netherwood by Jane Sanderson here.

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.

Please visit other stops on the Ravenscliffe blog tour page.


Anonymous said...

This time period holds a huge fascination for me so I'm sure I'd enjoy this series.

Thanks for being on the tour!