Got your attention, didn’t I? Yep. If you loved Downton Abbey as much as I did, you have to read this book.
I picked this book up because I loved the cover (yes, I am that girl) and because the blurb sounded pretty intriguing. I figured that this would be a book that I enjoy. What I didn’t count on, was it becoming one of my new favorites. What a gloriously written story!
The book begins with an introduction to the Killeen family. John, the father, is a poor farmer who rents farmland from Lord Ennis, the head of Ennismore; a.k.a “The Big House.” All of John’s daughters work at Ennismore once they are of age, and Rosie Killeen is no different, heading to The Big House at 8 years old to work in the kitchen. She is not there long, however, when she meets the young Victoria Bell, daughter of Lord Ennis. Victoria takes an instant liking to Rosie, and talks her father into allowing Rosie to be her friend. What follows is a deep and abiding friendship, that takes the girls from their childhood, to young adulthood, through tragedy and the Uprising of 1916 in Dublin, Ireland. And through all of it, we are afforded the privilege of getting to know the servants of Ennismore, who are so easy to love. (And to loathe, a bit, in one or two cases.)
I read a few reviews that shed a negative light on Rosie Killeen. I loved Rosie. To be bluntly honest, unless you’ve been poor or endured hard times, you truly can’t understand where Rosie’s bitterness comes from. She was a survivor. She was a “peasant” that was used and cast-aside by the gentry. And while she worked her fingers to the bone for barely any pay, the gentry never lifted a finger and had more wealth than they knew what to do with. I felt her pride, her defeat and her stubbornness very keenly. (But I do wish she’d stopped pushing Valentine away!)
Victoria, on the other hand, drove me nuts. At first, anyway. She was so privileged and clueless and spoiled. It wasn’t until she came face-to-face with the real world during the Uprising that she began to change, and I began to enjoy her somewhat. By the end of the book, I was cheering her on.
Bottom Line: This book is a heavy-hitter and absolutely a must-have. The characters, the storyline, the history and the way that Patricia Falvey puts you smack-dab in the middle of the scene is utterly refreshing.
**Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read and review this book!