Author: Fay Weldon, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction. Late 19th century England. Family Drama.
Other Details: Hardback. 320 pages.
Early one October morning in 1899, the house of Lord and Lady Dilberne is rudely awakened by the jangling of the grand front door bell. On learning that their invested fortune is lost, the family find themselves navigating hushed rumours, gossiping staff and the complex social protocol of the time in an attempt to save their name. Lady Dilberne, well aware that times are changing, and that “the acceptance of vulgarity is the beginning of wisdom”, decides that the only answer is for her son Arthur to marry a wealthy American heiress, Minnie. - synopsis from author's website.
There was a lot to enjoy in this upstairs-downstairs saga set in London during the final months of 1899. While I feel the publishers could have dropped the 'if you liked Downton Abbey, you'll love...' sticker from the front of my copy, I could appreciate that as a small newly established publisher that they were seeking to target their ideal audience.
While the novel didn't wow me as much as the television series, I did enjoy it and found its quirky characterisations appealing and also appreciated how well Fay Weldon was able to tread the fine line between satire and social comedy-drama. I'll be looking out for further novels in the series.
The novel is currently only available in the UK but will be published in the USA in January 2013.