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The Legacy
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274 of 287 people found the following review helpful
The story centres around sisters Erica and Beth Calcott who inherit the family seat, Storton Manor, from their cold, unloving grandmother Meredith. From the blurb I expected it to be a run-of-the-mill dual-timeframe 'woman inherits house and discovers family secrets buried within' type story, of which I've read quite a few lately, but I was very pleasantly surprised. It's streets ahead of a lot of the genre in terms of the quality of the writing, the originality of the historical setting and sheer page-turning readability.

In the contemporary story, Erica is dealing with her sister's depression, her rekindled feelings for her childhood friend Dinny and the fall-out from the disappearance of her cousin Henry who went missing during a family holiday at the house in the balmy summer of 1986. At the same time she starts to delve into her family history, discovering a cache of old photographs and letters in the attic which causes her to question her heritage and her family's links to the travellers who have lived on their land since the beginning of the last century.

The historical thread involves Erica's aristocratic Great-Grandmother Caroline, someone she remembers only vaguely from her childhood as a fierce, matriarchal figure. Caroline comes alive as her story is told, from her early years as a New York debutant under the thumb of her domineering Aunt Bathilda, to her life as a rancher's wife in the wilds of Oklahoma. A tragic event causes her to flee to London and make a new life for herself as Lady Calcott, bringing with her a terrible secret for which she has to atone for the rest of her life.

The two threads blend together beautifully with the links becoming more obvious as the book progresses (including a twist near the end involving the missing cousin which I had an inkling about from early on). With this type of book I usually prefer the historical story, but for once I was equally engrossed in both elements and could happily have read a whole novel based on either.

I understand that The Legacy is Katherine Webb's seventh completed novel but only the first to be published and it came to the publisher's attention through a peer-review creative writing website. She now has a two book deal and her next book, The Unseen, is out next year and sounds very interesting. Meanwhile The Legacy is a great read and definitely one for fans of the work of Katharine McMahon, Rachel Hore, Kate Morton etc.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2013
"A decision made in an instant and once it's made you can't go back on it" says one of the characters in this book, neatly summing up what it's all about.
I wish I had a pound for every story I've read over the years that started like this: someone sorting through a legacy comes across an unexpected letter/photograph/keepsake, launching two parallel narratives set in past and present. The past always holds the key to the present, and today's heroine (it's usually a heroine) can only move on with her life after confronting the past.
This time it's two sisters inheriting the family house and discovering a big secret hidden by their great-grandmother, who had a previous, unknown existence as a rancher's wife in Oklahoma. An old photograph is found - but who is the child on her lap? What happened to the cousin who disappeared? And are the two lost or stolen children linked?
It's readable, the Oklahoma setting is original (if not quite convincing), and there's a good twist at the end which I didn't see coming.
But I found it a very stodgy read: the characters aren't quite real enough to care about, and having established that they're all so troubled, they don't move on much. It's very repetitive in places.
And why, in these books, do the sections set in the present have to be so dull, and so Mills & Boon? The heroine is always beautiful/troubled/threatened, and there's always a handsome/mysterious/unattainable hero on hand to help her. I kept wanting to knock their heads together - why didn't they just have an actual conversation? Instead, we get pages and pages of this sort of thing:
"... Look at what trying to keep this secret has done to you ... I've been trying and trying to talk to you since you got back here ... Nobody's going until I've had the truth from one of you ... Maybe it would be better to just tell her ..."
Just because something's been done many times before doesn't mean it can't work again, and this is a 'good summer read' in that it would get you through a week on the beach - but then you'd leave it behind for someone else.
It's not bad, just totally forgettable.
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96 of 103 people found the following review helpful
What you have to understand about this book is that it is so far out of my normal choice of reading as to not even be on my horizon. Normally limiting myself to Sci-Fi or Fantasy I will, however, read a book if recommended by a trusted source, and so this is how I came to "The Legacy".

The author has an amazing skill, strong, believable characters, who are weaved into a beautifully crafted and intriguing plot. The historical portions of the tale are clearly well researched (without the author falling into the trap of "I've researched all of this so you will get every single detail of everything I know", but that research is used as the framework to hang a tale of adventure, sorrow and joy. The contemporary portions compliment and dovetail seamlessly into the overall story, and the author allows, on occasion, the reader to correctly assume something later revealed to be true (and therefore feel very smug and clever) and then, later, twist the plot around into something unexpected and yet, once revealed, you know the clues were there all along!

If I could write half as good as this, I'd be twice the writer I am now!

Brilliant.

If the author has anything else in the pipeline then it will be on my shopping list.

Why are you still reading this? Go buy the book!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2011
I really enjoyed this book. I kept wanting to know what was going to happen next and therefore struggled to put it down. I thought it was beautifully written, very atmospheric and the characters were excellently described. I have already ordered her next book and look forward to reading it very much.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2010
The premise of The Legacy - that two sisters inherit a house from their unlovely grandmother, on condition that they live in it - has a suspiciously old fashioned ring to it. This sounds like the corny introduction to a very traditional kind of ghost/woman in jeopardy story, but in this case the house is not full of menacing shadows or threatening psychopathic old retainers and the real threat to the narrator and her sister lies in what may happen to their relationship if secrets are/are not revealed.
There are two strands to the story - firstly what happened to a cousin who disappeared during a childhood holiday at the house and secondly what happened to a baby belonging to their great grandmother - who is a vageuley remembered figure from their childhood too. Katherine Webb moves effortlessly from one strand to the other, often leaving the reader with a cliffhanger, desperate to know what is happening in the other storyline.
The book is old fashioned in the sense that it is a really good read - so good that you can forgive occasional implausibility in the plot. Webb draws her characters well and in addition to telling a good story (or actually two good stories) shows us why people have turned out the way they have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2012
Katherine Webb has written a terrific debut novel with The Legacy. It has all the elements I enjoy with these kind of books--an old house, family secrets that are slowly revealed throughout the book, and an unexpected twist to the ending.

The book tells three stories which merge together brilliantly at the end. There is the modern-day where Erica and Beth have returned to Storton Manner to sort through their grandmother's belongings following her death while they decide if they want to stay and live in the house as per the terms of their grandmother's will. The house holds bad memories for them as it is where their cousin disappeared when they were children. In an attempt to help her sister who has been particularly affected by this, Erica sets out to find out what happened, and, in the process uncovers another family secret which stretches back to the beginning of the 20th century in America and their aristocratic great-grandmother Caroline.

I loved the way this book was written, there are duel narratives, focusing on Erica and Beth's time at Storton Manner, both now and while they were children and sections dealing with Caroline's story. Often the time frames would switch on a cliff hanger, making the reader anxious to keep turning the pages to return to a particular strand of the story. The present and the past are both compelling--though I particularly enjoyed reading about Caroline's story and how her actions shaped the families future, and made many of the modern characters act and feel the way they did. It has to be said that, although I enjoyed this section, Caroline's actions make her pretty unlikable--but no less fascinating. The characters feel believable and are wonderfully complex and, as the stories are unfolded, their actions become more understandable--though INS some cases flawed. I found this to be particularly the case with Meredith, the Grandmother who, seems cold and uncaring and who nurses a particular hatred of the Dinsdales, a traveller family who have a large baring on the story. The writing is full of emotion, and Webb has a wonderful grasp of language which helps to evoke time and place.

Since publication of the Legacy, Webb has written 2 more novels and I look forward to reading them in time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2010
This was the best book I have read in many months. I loved the way Katherine ran the 2 eras along side by side and also manages to leave you hanging at the end of each chapter.

I simply cannot wait for her next book and have that horrid empty feeling you get after reading such a book that nothing I read in the future will ever quite come up to the mark!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 7 May 2013
Writing this review halfway through the book, I will finish it, the only way I can do this is by skimming the modern Erica/Beth side of the story to spend more time on the Caroline section which is written in a more interesting style I could not careless about Beth and her problems and her annoying son.
it's all very slow, the only reason I am reading it is that I am between books and have a list I want to read on holiday soon.
I do not think the ending will be worth the wait, so if you find a copy in your holiday caravan /cottage it will while away a rainy afternoon but it's not a satisfying read, you wont miss much by skimming over the pages.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2011
What a beautiful book! Hs 3 diferent times visited, one 150 years ago, another 20 years ago and last one is right now. Touches so many lives, So much suffering, human pain and depression, but the book is quite upbeat, very enjojable, unfolds all the time and keeps you wanting more. Can't wait for another one of the same author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2010
I originally bought this book to read over the Xmas holidays , however, with the unexpected bonus of a couple of snowdays and unable to get to work, I decided to treat myself early. And what a treat! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it over a couple of days.( I would have finished it sooner but wanted to prolong the pleasure) It did take me a little while to get into the story and on a couple of occasions I did get annoyed with having to swap eras, but once immersed I absolutely loved it.Now the dilemma of what to read at Xmas !!
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