“ Paperback: 192 pages / Publisher: Severn House / Published: 30 Nov 2011 „
==Synopsis of the book:==
The year in 1902, the location is Bath. Daisy is working as a housemaid for a wealthy, old and bedridden man called Montague Pennington. She is only seventeen years old but enjoys her duties within this very traditional old family. However what she doesn't yet know is this like many wealthy families has secrets and these secrets are kept deep within the families history that would not normally be shared with the lower classes.
Daisy looks forward to the weekly letter the Housekeeper and superior Miss Dutton receives from her mother as it usually brings interesting news. However on this occasion when Daisy is sorting the post the handwriting is different. Miss Dutton is shocked to find a neighbour has written to her as her mother has broken her leg and is in hospital. She decides she must immediately leave her employment, take her mother out of the hospital and nurse her. This leaves Daisy to look after old Monty on her own. So after consulting him she phones his sister and sister-in-law to advise them of the situation and hopefully enlist their help to find a replacement.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I found this quite an enjoyable piece of period fiction. I know this is very hard to believe but I have grown a bit bored with the usual crime thrillers I usually buy. So when I was searching for a new book this week I did not look for a thriller. Instead I headed for the fiction section in my local charity shop, which has a vast array of quality books. I selected this one on the basis of wanting something new and different.
In my time I have read quite a few period stories and find I either love or hate them. If I can relate to the characters, it is well written and it is a subject that interests me then I will enjoy it, however it is quite hard to satisfy all the criteria. I think there is a real art to written period stories and bringing them alive to the reader. So from my experience this is not a skill that can simply be picked up, a lot of research is required plus an understand of what it was like to live during the period you are writing about, for me Pamela Oldfield achieved this in this novel.
Pamela Oldfield is not a writer I am familiar with. This when I looked into it is hard to believe because this author has written a total of 88 novels so far in her writing career. With this being one of her latest stories being first produced in 2010. From my own view point the closest authors I can compare this English writer to Kate Sedley or Anne Perry.
The front cover of my copy which was a hardback version showed a very traditional grand looking house slightly obscured by trees. I wondered what the author had in mind with the books title but I quickly surmised it was the name of the main family in the story. I looked on the back cover of the book for the summary of the story but instead found general praise for the authors work. And being a new reader to a Pamela Oldfield I did find this quite useful but I would have preferred it to be about this book specifically.
The summary of the story was on the inside cover of the book and it was the feature that persuaded me to purchase the book without doubt. It was excellent, only two paragraphs long but a very good size and I really liked the concepts the author introduced the reader to. I liked the idea of this letter arriving and really having an effect on not only Daisy but the Penningtons as well. It was this that made me purchase the book for just one pound fifty. As I liked the idea of this very young lady trying to deal with all this additional responsibility with little or no experience. For example she had never been allowed to use the phone in the house before or cook any meals.
Once I started reading I found the story very easy to get into and I liked the style and the way the story started unfolding. I found I instantly took to Daisy as despite her age she seemed a very caring about her employer and keen to do her very best for her given the new situation she found herself in. I found I was very interested in what would happen and at this moment I had no idea as to what direction the story would take. The only thing I knew was that Daisy was entering new and dangerous ground as while Monty was fine with her helping out more at the house, his sister and sister-in-law both seemed to have other agendas.
I found the longer I read the story the more I liked the variety of characters within it. They were excellently explained and described so you really understood their characters. While I got annoyed with the way Daisy was treated by the family I did need to remember it was a very different time and being a domestic help was not far from being a servant and what was expected of them. I found it an interesting story and I thought it had so many different possibilities of the various directions it could possibly go in.
The story had a few good twists and turns within it that added to the quality of the story. The only real criticism I had was I felt what was going to happen in the end was a little to telegraphed. So for me what was going to happen was obvious, but I need confirmation that I was correct in my deductions. Sadly I was and so I had a fair idea what the conclusion of the story was going to be like. I think the author while making a few things obvious could have added one or two late twists in the story, which would have challenged me a bit more.
The story did have quite a lot of mystery about it and on different levels within the story. I enjoyed this mystery as while I knew or thought I knew some of the answers one key thing I did not know at the time. Added to this there was suspense within the story and given the very different period we were dealing with it meant any solution to this would also be very different. Any while for me the concluding part of the story was predictable it was good to see it all come together and make sense.
Even though I would have preferred something unexpected.
At times I did think of this story as being a bit of a 'chic lit'. I am not sure how you would describe what one of these these books is. Yes there was a bit of a blossoming love story within it. But for me it was not one because the story was not written from just one characters (Daisy) view point. So we got to understand and see the world through other members of the Pennington family eyes. This for me gave the story a more believable more rounded real to it as I got to understand what they were feeling and why.
The leading character in the story was Daisy. I found her a very likeable character, I think to start with it was because she was so up against it and I admired the way she went about dealing with the new challenges she faced. This got me on her side and I liked the way she handled herself and the way she dealt with the various members of the family who were often not very nice to her. I felt Daisy deserved better although I was surprised at how naïve she seemed on various matters while in other ways she seemed quite street wise. It for me was an odd contradiction but one that did endear me to her.
The stories length was just right to tell an interesting story. My copy was only 188 pages long and when I looked at this list price for the hardback version was a shade under 20 pounds this seemed too expensive given the story was so short. For me this story was made enjoyable because not only was it well written but also the mystery that surrounded the Pennington family and their past. I think given the quality of this author's work I will be looking to try another story in the coming weeks and see how it compares with this one.
This was a period story that I would recommend as a worthy read. I found the concepts behind it very good and there was always enjoy in the story to make to an interesting read. It was good to learn a little more about life in the early part of the 1900's. The only thing that disappointed me was it was a little predictable and I knew most of the answers quite early on in the story so there was little to surprise or impress me.
This book is available in Hardback, Paperback and Kindle Editions.
Price: 19.94 New at Amazon
Publisher: Severn House
Year first Published: 2010
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
© CPTDANIELS August 2013.