Description (from publisher):
'1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of society and the distant rumblings of war...
Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle's guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the 'underclass' in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic 'rebels,' Rowena must decide where her true passions--and loyalties--lie.
Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret--Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever...
Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess's daughter, and to the Lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society--as lady's maid to her beloved 'sisters.' But Pru doesn't belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls. And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she'll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey.'
I wasn't sure what I was getting when I was reading this book. Was this going to be another book to capitalize on Downton Abbey's fame or would it stand on its own? I knew that there would be similarities between the two because they share the same time period and setting. The characters are those who belong to the wealthy and the genteel class and they are use to the luxuries that come with the territory. The world that the rich lived in during this time period was fabulous and grand and this book really showcases that and brings that world to light. I really enjoyed reading about this and the characters really had a lot of substance. I am glad to learn that this is the first book in a series and I cannot wait to see what is in store for Rowena, Victoria and Prudence.
The three girls grew up together and feel that they're sisters. They were raised to not see the difference in classes and treat everyone equally the same. So when they are forced to adhere to the strictures set by society, they quickly learn that everyone doesn't view the world the same as they do. Prudence is regulated to the downstairs household crew and is kept separate from Victoria and Rowena by being their ladies' maid. Prudence bristles at this sudden change in circumstances and it rankles among the relationships between the girls. They can't go back to the way things were before and they must adapt to the changes that surround them.
I was surprised to find that this book was nothing like Downton Abbey and I really liked that. I didn't want to read something that was going to ride the coattails of a successful television show. This book has the potential to really be able to make something of itself just on its own merits. This story has great characters, a strong storyline and I found it to be very interesting. I really can't wait to read the next in this series This story ended abruptly, but I can see what the author was trying to do. I imagine that the next story will pick up where this one left off and I can't wait to see where these three characters are going to go. A great read for people who love the era of Downton Abbey, but don't necessarily want to read a copycat.
Overall Rating: 4
Title: Summerset Abbey
Author: T. J. Brown
Series: Summerset Abbey #1
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Get It: Amazon; Barnes & Noble
Disclaimer: This book was given to my by the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for a honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.