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Customer Review

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasurable Read, 7 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Park Lane (Kindle Edition)
Hardback Edition.

It is 1914; we are in London at 35 Park Lane, the family home of Lady Masters and two of her adult children, Beatrice and Edward. Beatrice is a young woman who feels constrained by duty and tradition and who wants to break free, but is unsure where to direct her energies. When her aunt introduces her to the Suffragette movement, Beatrice finds a focus and she is eager to throw herself wholeheartedly into the fight for votes for women, involving herself with the Pankhursts in militant actions that would horrify her mother.

Below stairs at Park Lane, is Grace Campbell, a young semi-educated woman who has come to London from her home in Carlisle with the hopes of securing a job as a secretary so that she can send as much money as possible home to her struggling family. Unable to find a job in an office, Grace reluctantly takes a job as a housemaid to the Masters family, but keeps her lowly position a secret from her family in Carlisle and also from her brother Michael, an angry young man with a social conscience, who has secured himself a position in London as a Solicitor's clerk.

As Grace waits on Beatrice, and Beatrice becomes further embroiled in the Suffragette movement, the nation moves towards war, and the two women become unwittingly linked in a way that neither of them would have thought possible; and while Grace keeps the home fires burning at Park Lane, Beatrice, as an ambulance driver, finds herself dealing with soldiers who have been horrifically injured at the front line. This story moves between the two main protagonists as we listen to their inner thoughts and observe the experiences of two women who are born into different classes, but who both strive to change their lives.

I received this book as a gift and initially I wasn't sure that I would really enjoy it; however, I am pleased to say that I found this an interesting and pleasant read and became quite involved in the lives of Beatrice and Grace - both characters who were warmly depicted by Frances Osborne - and of the people around them, those above and below stairs. I was also appreciative of the fact that the author did not have a tidy and happy ending for all involved - more of the hopeful possibility that for some of the characters, their lives might go forward in the way that we would wish for them. 'Park Lane' like many debut novels, may have its tiny flaws, but this book was a pleasurable read and I shall be looking with interest to see what Frances Osborne chooses as a topic for her next fictional outing.

4 Stars.

Please Note: This is Frances Osborne's first novel but she has written two non-fiction books: The Bolter which I can recommend and Lilla's Feast which I have yet to read.
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