Sunday, February 2, 2014

Review: Benedict Hall by Cate Campbell

Description (from cover):

'In this richly layered debut novel, Cate Campbell introduces the wealthy Benedict family and takes us behind the grand doors of their mansion, Benedict Hall. There, family and servants alike must face the challenges wrought by World War I--and the dawn of a new age brimming with scandal, intrigue and social change.

Seattle in 1920 is a city in flux. Horse-drawn carriages share the cobblestone streets with newfangled motor cars. Modern girls bob their hair and show their ankles, cafes defy Prohibition by serving dainty teacups of whiskey to returning vets--and the wartime boom is giving way to a depression. Even within the Benedict's majestic Queen Anne home, life is changing--above and below stairs.

Margot, the Benedicts' free-spirited daughter, struggles to succeed as a physician despite gender bias--and personal turmoil. The household staff, especially longtime butler Abraham Blake, have always tried to protect Margot from her brother Preston's cruel streak. Yet war has altered Preston too--not for the better. And when a chance encounter brings a fellow army officer into the Benedict fold, Preston's ruthlessness is triggered to new heights.

An engineer at the fledging Boeing company, Frank Parrish has been wounded body and soul, and in Margot, he senses a kindred spirit. But their burgeoning friendship and Preston's growing wickedness will have explosive repercussions for everyone at Benedict Hall--rich and poor, black and white--as Margot dares to follow her own path, no matter the consequences.'

My thoughts:

With the onslaught of Downton Abbey-like fiction, I thought that this book with be just like the others. Rich estate with spoiled children having a hard time coping with the new era after World War I. However, Cate Campbell surprised me with this one. This one doesn't take place in England, but in Seattle. It was a different change of scenery, but I really enjoyed it. Margot was a fresh type of character. Strong-willed and determined to make her own way in the world where women were treated as a lesser class. She is smart and determined to make a name for herself as a doctor. She has many trials, but the goodness of her heart eventually wins out in the end.

Preston is Margot's evil younger brother. He is ruthless and conniving and he is the character you will love to hate. It makes you wonder how he turned out so bad when Margot turned out so good. They had the same upbringing, the same parents, and yet they are like night and day. Preston is determined to make Margot's life miserable and when Frank Parrish enters the scene, he is out to get him as well. Cate Campbell created a beautiful story of resilience in the face of a changing world. I was surprised at how much I couldn't put this book down. I was engaged from page one and I thoroughly enjoyed every single chapter and page in this book.

Campbell has a way with words that endears you to the characters, to their struggles and to their way of life. There are few authors who can make the reader relate to the characters on such a level. I was amazed at Campbell's weaving of the plot and I can't wait to see what happens to these strong characters in her next book. If you like Downton Abbey, but want something a little bit different, then this is the book for you. It is loosely based on the themes of Downton Abbey, but this book definitely holds itself to be something different. The Kindle edition of this book is currently $2.99. Make sure you pick this up quickly before you miss out on such a great price for such a great book.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  Benedict Hall
Author:  Cate Campbell
Series:  Benedict Hall #1
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date:  May 28, 2013
Pages:  384
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes and Noble

Disclaimer: This book was purchased by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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