Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
TYPE OF NOVEL: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
SETTING: Modern-day Atlanta, GA
- Samantha: a married socialite living in the lap of luxury. Older sister/parent to two younger, irresponsible, and entitled siblings.
- Claire: a divorced empty-nester who has saved up enough to pursue writing full-time for the next year.
- Brooke: a single mother of two young girls who is still struggling to overcome her low self-esteem and lack of confidence due to a nasty divorce and an even nastier ex-husband.
- Edward: a native Brit who earns his living as a concierge and by running his own service business – Private Butler.
WHY I WANTED TO READ THIS NOVEL:
The only reason this book popped onto my radar was because of the Downton Abbey connection. I love Downton Abbey! Of course, I”m interested in reading a work of fiction that highlights and talks about one of my favorite shows!
WHAT I LOVED:
- 4 Story-Lines – 4 Perspectives: In this novel we follow the four main characters listed above as they deal with difficult turning points in their lives and face new realities. We switch point-of-views frequently and page time is divided between each character – although not quite evenly. Samantha receives the most page time and Edward the least, I think. I always love a story with multiple story-lines that connect and crossover. These four story-lines were very well-executed – a varied mixture and all of them engaging.
- Themes of Friendship and Self-Identity: I enjoyed seeing theses unlikely women meet and become friends. I loved how Edward saw the individual needs of each of theses women and nudged them to become friends with each other. It was wonderful to see these characters band together, share their hardships with one another, and experience some personal growth.
- Some Downton Abbey Love: Throughout the book there are weekly viewing parties where the characters gather together to watch episodes of Downton Abbey, seasons one and two. I loved seeing the themed foods and beverages they enjoyed during these parties, hearing their discussions about characters and quotes, and observing their predictions for each storyline. 🙂 It was fun witnessing these characters become infatuated with Downton Abbey (something many of us can relate too!)
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- More Like 15% Downton Abbey: This is mostly my fault…just because it is in the title it doesn’t mean it is a main component of the book! There isn’t as much Downton Abbey in the book as the title would suggest. The first episode is watched around page seventy; and although they watch several more episodes the page time devoted to the viewing and discussions was always brief and secondary.
- Not Always Balanced: Out of the four story-lines there was one that had some serious stagnation – Claire’s. Every time we’d switch to her, I’d inwardly groan because it was the same thing over and over. There were many times I wanted to shake her and say “Get it together!” In addition, while I loved seeing Samantha’s storyline receive a lot more page time towards the end, it meant that the other three storylines were resolved a little more unsatisfactorily with summaries and not a lot of on-page action. I would have loved to see more of Brooke’s story-line.
While this book might not the best fix to help when suffering from “Downton Withdrawal,” it is an uplifting and delightful story about the power of friendship, and I’m very happy I got the chance to read it. I find myself inspired to gather some close friends and set up a Downton Abbey viewing party complete with tea, shandies, and mini pies!