I stumbled across this novel after reading a book by the author in the “My Story” reads. Although aimed at young adults, I thought that I would give it a go as I am quite a fan of “Downton Abbey” type novels and the upstairs/downstairs novels set in the early 20th Century. Penelope Fitzsimmons arrives at Langdown Manor from India to live her Aunt and Uncle who she has never met. Still feeling raw from the recent death of her mother, she feels alone and unwanted, just wanting to return to her father in India. The only person Penelope feels she can relate to is the stable boy Fred, through their shared passion for horses. This however, this relationship cannot flourish – society won’t allow it. Whilst Penelope’s aunt is trying to marry her off to a Lord, all Penelope wants to is seek out Fred’s company. How can Fred and Penelope be together when all society wants to do is keep them apart? This is a lovely, easy to read book with plenty of period detail. I certainly would not let being an adult reader put you off picking this book off as it was a treat to read!
An upstairs downstairs romance set in an Edwardian country house and aimed primarily at teenagers wouldn't normally be my bag, but having much admired Sue Reid's evocations of a mill girl in Victorian Lancashire, a nurse during the Second World War and the nine day queen, Lady Jane Grey, in the My Story series, I was eager to see whether she succeeded with the broader historical canvas of Langdown Manor. The answer is a resounding "yes". Reid writes with sensitivity and insight about family rivalries, social inequalities and women's rights (one of the heroine's friends is a suffragette), cleverly dovetailing the antithetical worlds of masters and servants through two attractive young women - headstrong Polly and shy Jess - while presenting us with a tender and convincing love story between an upper-class woman and a stable boy. A must for any younger fan of Downton Abbey, this is also highly recommended for anyone who enjoys Daisy Goodwin and Georgette Heyer.
This book is excellently written, full of great descriptions of how it was for the lives of teenagers during the Edwardian period, both rich and poor, upstairs with privilege and downstairs in 'service'. The characters are richly developed with numerous storylines. A thoroughly good read, can't wait for the sequel. Recommend for other teenagers.