Friday, June 13, 2014

Not Actually Downton Abbey:: The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons

My Summary::
Elise Landau is a Jewish daughter of an opera singer and a novelist, living among the bourgeois in Vienna. On the brink of WWII, her family sends her off to England to work as maid, in hopes it will keep her safe. She is hired at the house at Tyneford, a great old house, occupied by Mr. Rivers and his 21 year old son, Kit. At first Elise is thrown, she barely speaks English, she's never had to take care of herself- much less others, and she constantly worries about the family she has left behind. Elise's unique position of being both upper and lower class allows her to change Tyneford forever.

My Review::
I saw a lot of mixed reviews for this, but I figured I'd give it a try. The premise of the book seemed so interesting that I figured it couldn't be that bad. It was.

The first 1/3 of the book seemed promising, the second 1/3 was still okay, but after that it got weird and boring. I obviously don't want to give the plot away for those who choose to read it, but I found the ending uncomfortable and boring (as well as a little confusing). The plot had so many interesting possibilities that could have made it a fascinating novel, but instead, it was awkward and disappointing. Once I figured out how this was ending, my interest in the book faded and I had to really push myself to finish it.

There were a few high points (though the icky plot detracted from it). The writing is lovely and it has lot of descriptions of the English countryside, but there are SO many that I ended up skimming most of them. The characters seem complex. I loved Kit, he felt so real and like someone who I might know. Elise, however, it seemed like the author tried to make her so "flawed" that she seemed unlikable.

In general, I don't recommend it. I love Downton Abbey and the cover said that it would appease Downton fans, but it didn't really seem anything like it at all.

Perfect if You Loved:: Atonement by Ian McEwan (though it isn't nearly as good, but it has similarities with it)
Rating (out of 30):: 9

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