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Monday, June 24, 2013


I went into this book thinking it would be shades of Downton Abbey but it was somewhat different.

Set in Ireland from 1917 coming in to 1943 it starts in Dublin then surprisingly goes across to Australia and then returns dramatically to Tyringham Park. 

Victoria is a toddler who disappears from the Park and her absence is felt most keenly by her elder sister the thoroughly mixed up Charlotte. The mother is twisted, jealous of her daughter and bitter with her husband. The nanny Nurse Dixon would today be classified as an abuser who torments Victoria all the time, hiding her abuse from all other than fellow servants who suspect but who do not help because of the overpowering authority of the lady of the house. No wonder that Victoria is depressed and will throughout her adult life have episodes of depression. 

Victoria is herself not a nice character - she has a horrible temper and is very capable of playing up to anyone who she feels will help her in whatever way she can. This "not nice" characterization of main characters in the book adds to the structure of the story because otherwise it would have just been another descriptive story of a great house set in a turbulent era.

Ireland at the time was just beginning to rebel against the land holdings of the great and famous. Those landlords were literally kings in their own domain and in this particular case cared nothing for those that laboured for them neither did he have any love for the land nor did he find ways of improving the lot of those who worked for him. He looked on his estate as a cash cow and was a crass, drunkard, man with homosexual leanings and decided views on everything. 

The story is full of frustrated women in the form of both the Lady and the Nurse, men who use their position of power for their own ends and the distinct categories of upstairs downstairs and how helpless people were in the face of tyranny from those in power. In this story however it is not only the poor who are helpless in the face of tyranny here the victims are also from the wealthy class who are tyrannized by their own background and family.

The book was a good one - the Gothic family saga and its individuals portrayed against an Irish history which in itself was full of flavour. 

Am back in Sri Lanka to fortunately a rainy period so that is not that hot or humid. Coming from freezing Melbourne it is a change and it is always nice to be home though I am missing children and my grand daughter Tia.


  1. Very good review Mystica and going on "The' list!
    Welcome back from your globetrotting days!
    Rainy here as well but since we are told we are facing many weeks of drought, we might as well take what we can.
    I can understand you missing everyone. Next time, wedding bells, right? Take care,

  2. I think I'd like this book and will look for it!
    We've had a lot of rain lately in my state leading to flash floods and mudslides but we're ok at my house. The rain came with heat and humidity though - I could do without that!

  3. I can see how the book cover would make you think it was similar to Downton Abbey.

  4. Sorry you are missing your children and grandchild! It is hard when the miles separate family. I've read a couple of good reviews for this book.

  5. LOVE this review! It totally gives a sense of this title and makes me want to read it!

  6. This seems very reminiscent of Kate Morton, doesn't it? If it is half as good as Morton's books, then this is definitely a good read. Great review!