I just liked the cover - had never heard of the author and my knowledge of Edwardian society was also very, very little. The story starts at the height of Edwardian society - and very high flying it seems to be. Despite all the behind the scenes activities of changing partners, openly having lovers, the question of being aristocratic and above it all still seemed prevalent at the beginning of the book. The hypocrisy of the period began to grate on me after a while. The notion of one set of rules for the very rich and aristocratic who definitely ruled the roost - and also totally abused and took advantage of the working class was very difficult to read about.
We have Dulcima - beautiful, young and definitely middle class in love with a titled aristocrat. In her naivety she believes that having a child will force the infamous Justin to marry her as he is desperate for an heir. His obvious disdain for her, and his disgusting attitude towards her only dawns on her when she actually tells him she is pregnant. Fast forward to her having the child and dying and her niece taking over the infamous card salon which Dulcima ran along with bringing up baby Charles.
The story is very descriptive of the period and then moves on to pre WWI and the actual period of WWI and how life changes dramatically for all - especially the titled and how the position of women is empowered to the point that they begin to think of themselves as being independent, free thinking people. This part of the story was very interesting for me because within a period of about twenty years, the entire fabric of society was changed to such an extent that working women even from a category of women who never worked before, became totally acceptable to the society of the time. The attitude of men towards their wives and daughters also changed, the position of men in the family changing from an autocratic all powerful being to someone who was more approachable and mellow was also apparent in the book.
A difficult book to read at the beginning (I think maybe for women of the present times!) but as it went on I enjoyed the story specially the WWI period. The story in parts was a bit too "happy ever after" though the ending was not quite what was expected! A very interesting book to read for anyone who has an interest in this period.