Source: Review copy
Publication: 10 November 2022 from Penguin
My thanks to Penguin and Random Things Tours for an advance copy for review
The Mordaunts aren’t like most families . . .
For one, their family home is Roxborough Hall – a magnificent, centuries-old mansion in the Norfolk countryside. For another, the house isn’t passed down from parent to child – but rather to the family member deemed most worthy.
Cecily Mordaunt is dead. On the evening of her funeral, her family will gather for dinner and each will be given a letter, revealing who is the next custodian of Roxborough Hall.
The house is a burden, a millstone, a full-time job . . . but they all want it. And some are willing do anything to get it.
One family. Eight letters. Who will get what they deserve?
I really enjoyed this book. It is light enough to lift me out of my usual dark and bloody reading material and yet strong plotting with lots of nice twists and turns to keep my interest engaged and my brain focussing on what comes next.
Both the setting and the premise are fascinating. Roxburgh Hall is an idyllic grand mansion in the beautiful and tranquil Norfolk countryside. For years it has been home to Cecily Mordaunt and her companion and former ladies maid, Violet.
Now Cecily is dead and unusually, this house, which needs a lot of care and attention in its upkeep, is to go to the person whom Cecily deems most worthy to get it. It’s the way this house has been handed down for years and at every owner’s death letters are handed out at an eve of funeral family dinner. Each person gets a personal letter explaining why or why they are not the new owner of Roxburgh Hall. That person, however, has to be at the house to receive their letter.
Rebecca Reid’s book combines love and romance with family secrets, devious personalities, bitter resentment and years of hurt to provide a brilliant backdrop to a compelling story.
Not everyone wants the house; one because it would be too much of a burden, another because they cannot get over the hurt they feel that goes back decades. Others need the house for their own reasons. As Reid gives us glimpses into each character, their history and personality, we understand that centuries of tradition means more to some of those present than others.
Some have grand ambitions; others see the house as an answer to all their problems.
But who will Cecily have found the most worthy and was she the best judge of character for this job?
Told from a range of perspectives, Reid uses multiple timelines to help us understand each character and their motivation and to guide the reader in making their own decisions about who should inherit the house.
Reid’s flawed characters are very well drawn and spring to life from the page. The hopes, aspirations and dreams of these characters are well expressed and you can sense the frustration among those who feel they most deserve this inheritance.
I very much enjoyed reading about Cecily’s life and history and understanding what brought her to the final decision on who should inherit. There are many long buried secrets here that unfold as the narrative develops and Rebecca Reid does a terrific job of keeping the reader engaged and involved as each is revealed.
Verdict: A thoroughly engrossing, fast paced and enjoyable family drama involving hidden secrets and flawed characters that retained my interest throughout.
Rebecca Reid is the author of the novels Perfect Liars, Truth Hurts and Two Wrongs, and the nonfiction book The Power of Rude. She is a freelance journalist and columnist for the Telegraph’s women’s section and a regular contributor to Telegraph culture. She is the former digital editor of Grazia magazine and has previously written for Stylist, the Independent, the Guardian, The Times, Marie Claire, the New Statesman and Glamour Magazine. She regularly contributes to Good Morning Britain, Sky News and various BBC radio programmes. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway.