- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Hot Key Books (3 Jan. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1471400867
- ISBN-13: 978-1471400865
- Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.8 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,719,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Secrets & Sapphires Paperback – 3 Jan 2013
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DOWNTON ABBEY meets GOSSIP GIRL in this racy first instalment of an exciting new sequence
From the Inside Flap
Housekeeper's daughter Rose Cliffe has always looked up to Ada Averley, the young mistress at Somerton Court. The girls have grown up together in the formidable big house, even though their destinies are so utterly different... But behind the dutiful smiles and glamour of the Averley family, ruthless ambition, forbidden attraction and unspoken dreams are entangled with Rose and Ada's lives. And the secrets if Somerton are just waiting to be revealed...
Part one of the sumptuous and compelling At Somerton saga.
Top customer reviews
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The novel does not really have an ongoing plot but instead feels a bit like a soap opera. It follows the lives of the people who live and work on the Somerton Estate, from Lord Westlake down to the girls who serve in the kitchens. While its difficult to tell what time period this story is set over, it roughly follows the time from Lord Westlake's return from India to the "coming out" of his daughter, Lady Ada. While it did touch briefly on some pressing issues of the time - British occupation of India, the suffrage movement, the taboo of homosexuality - none of these were really focused on at all in the story.
Instead, it was a novel about scandal. Every character in the story has a secret which will destroy them if it is revealed to the public in large and most of these settle on "inappropriate" relationship. One wealthy girl is in love with a poor Indian scholar. One man tries hide the child that he fathered with a housemaid. One man is being blackmailed by a former valet that he had a passionate relationship with. So many characters and scandals in such a low page count really does become tiresome to read.
As you might expect, the novel does not even really end. Very few of the scandals felt as though they had come to their natural conclusion within this story, leaving them open to continue into the next instalment of the series. This really didn't feel final enough for my liking as it did not really feel that the story is complete in its own right.
The characters were also problematic. While a couple of them are at least likeable, particularly Ada, Rose and Georgiana, there still was little to any of the cast beyond their scandal. The characters didn't have much to them to make them distinct, as even the ones that were described as being wastrels or ladies men did not really do much to show this on page. Part of the problem was that the cast was far too big. There just was not enough space to develop everyone and so it fell foul of a lot of exposition.
There was also a lot of insta-love in this story. Due to the lack of development, characters seemed to frequently fall in love at first sight. Naturally, it was also always forever love. Ada was especially bad for this as she spent the entire novel mooning after Ravi. Even when he tried to end it and leave, she still refused to consider seeing other men because her love for him was too pure. You know, apart from the fact they only actually shared five scenes together in the entire book...
So, all in all this wasn't for me. Perhaps if you're a fan of the likes of Downton Abbey you'd get more of a kick out of it but there just was not enough plot or characterisation to hold my interest.
Secrets and Sapphires joins the Averley family when they return to England after a scandal surrounding their father in India. At home the rumors are still flying around and it's up to the Lord's daughters to take the spotlight away from him. Ada has a secret of her own, one night on the ship that bought them home, she did the unthinkable and kissed a man. How unladylike of her, it's tainted her mind and she can't get the mysterious man out of her head. How is she going to prepare for her first season and all the eligible gentleman when the one she wants isn't there? The staff at Somerton Court have a surprise when they are told the Lord is bringing with him a fiance and her children. The fiance in question is rather stuck up as are her children but Ada and the family have to put up with them as they are bringing money into the family and household. Downstairs there's trouble brewing when the fiance's lady's maid thinks she's better than everyone else. Rose, a housemaid is in the middle of her own scandal and she doesn't even know about it. Secrets and flying from lips to lips, Scandals are happening around every corner and one little slip could lead the family to ruin.
The novel was told from many different point of view as quite a few characters had their own plot arc. Some only got a few pages of their point of view where as others got chapters, but it worked. It was brilliantly done, allowing the reader to see all the scandals that were going on revolving around Somerton Court. Whether they were small scandals or full blown ones they were all important and played a part in the future of Somerton.
I really liked Lady Ada's character, well actually I kinda loved her. When you say lady, do you picture a snobby girl who believes she's a princess? Yes, that was what I was expecting but no, Ada is so down to earth. She is ahead of her time, questioning everything and she's so intellectual The most important thing though is she wishes to throw away the chance of marriage to go to Oxford University where she can actually make a difference in the world. I loved this about Ada, she was so head strong and determined to do what she wanted, yes she knew her father would probably disagree with her but there was nothing that could stop her trying. She was willing to change and in England at the time, Change was a pretty big thing that was frowned upon by many. I also really like Rose, the housemaid. She knew how lucky she was to be employed at the time and she didn't want to lose that position. She tried her best at everything and the thing that could lead her to ruin, she didn't even know about. No matter what she did, if the truth came out, she would be ruined and why? Well you will have to read it and see.
This was a great historical novel. All the settings, culture and society were correct for the period and it must have taken a lot of research to perfect everything. I don't think I found any flaws to do with the time period itself. At first I was worried about the similarities to Downton Abbey and at first I could see it but this novel really is a masterpiece of it's own. It may be slow to bloom but once it gets that little bit of sunlight it truly does blossom. I loved the writing style especially and I cannot wait to see what happens next at Somerton. After all that ending was one shocker and I want to see how Somerton recovers.
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