Summerset Abbey

By T.J. Brown

Gallery Books, $15.00
E-books at the usual providers

Synopsis from the publisher:

1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of society in this stunning series starter that fans of Downton Abbey will love.
 Rowena Buxton Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “underclass” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie.
Victoria Buxton
Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret—Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever...
Prudence Tate
Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as lady’s maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls. And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey.

My thoughts:    

I'm a rabid Downton Abbey fan!  I can't ever get enough of the Crawleys and their help, so when I read the synopsis of Summerset Abbey, I knew I had to read this galley!  

This is the first in a trilogy by T.J. (Teri) Brown. Sommerset Abbey was released in January of this year, and I thought this would be a perfect time to post my review, as the second book in the trilogy, A Bloom in Winter, has just been released. I'm a firm believer in reading the books in order.  So before you jump into A Bloom in Winter, please start with Summerset Abbey.  

Summerset Abbey  had me on the first page! It's 1913, the year after the Titanic sank, and the modern world doesn't know that a great and terrible war is on the horizon. Their cozy existence is soon to be torn apart with a death.  In the first paragraph, when Prudence and Victoria enter the church, the description of the sanctuary as being filled with ladies' black feathered funeral hats that resembled a "flock of ravens" was perfect!  You knew exactly what that sanctuary looked like and I had the picture in my mind!   I love this kind of writing, when the author can use a few simple, well thought out words to give you the big  picture of what was happening!

T.J. Brown wastes no time in throwing her characters into a spin, sisters Rowena and Victoria (both under twenty) and their late governess' daughter, Prudence, have been raised together thanks to the sisters' forward thinking father. No "upstairs-downstairs" distinction in his home. Well, that is, until he dies, leaving his two daughters in a royal mess. But then, if there wasn't any drama, we wouldn't have this wonderful book!  

As the girl's uncle takes over their lives and things get turned around and upside down, Brown skillfully twists and turns the readers, as we all fight with the horrid class distinctions that cause issues for the three girls and those around them. Again, author Brown, while telling the story from different character's perspective, manages that difficult balance, keeping true to the character and also true to the over all story arc.

I don't like giving too much of the plot away, and this book came with a big fat bit from the publishers.  Let me suffice it to say that I can't wait to get my grubby little fingers on Brown's next installment, A Bloom in Winter.

I do recommend this book, it's well crafted, the characters are defined and complex, and the story has enough twists, turns and secrets guessed at, to make all of us lovers of Edwardian fiction happy!

I give it a big old 4 out of 5 stars!  Go get it, or download it now, THEN get T.J. Brown's second in the trilogy, A Bloom in Winter.

This e-galley was provided to me by the publisher, Gallery Books, through Edelweiss, above the treeline in exchange for an honest review.

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