4 Stars Out Of 5
Cute Christian Story For The Downton Abbey Crowd :-)
January 2, 2016
Rebecca Stubbs has grown up in a comfortable, somewhat privileged home as a vicar's daughter. At the age of seventeen, she tragically loses both parents just months apart. Wanting to maintain some sense of independence, Rebecca applies for a housemaid position at nearby Barton Manor. It's a definite lifestyle adjustment, to say the least! Rebecca struggles to keep up with all the little rules of the house. She's also sometimes befuddled by her boss's line of thinking. Rebecca finds herself being reprimanded one day for helping a co-worker with some household duties, being told that helping others with their work "undermines the structure of the household." Whaaa?! No good deed, right?!
What helps break the stress for Rebecca is her friendship with the manor's other housemaid, Emma. Their friendship was pretty cute, especially with Emma's sass and wit! Rebecca also fully utilizes the manor's library, which is where she meets and befriends Edward, the orphaned nephew of Master Davenport (owner of Barton Manor). Rebecca & Edward bond over not only both being orphaned, but also over their love of theology, philosophy and people watching. As the years progress though, Rebecca struggles with this friendship as she starts to feel more and more that Edward takes advantage of her loyalty to him.
As Rebecca progresses from her teens into her twenties, the reader observes her learning tough life lessons, one being why people like to say "you can't go back home." When she tries to return to her hometown, she finds the feel of the old 'hood disturbingly different -- a new vicar in her father's place, neighbors significantly aged / ill, the village itself changing. She also learns important lessons in love. Regarding things like unrequited love / unreturned affections, she comes to see that there's typically good reason that those affections are not reciprocated and that if you hold out and have faith, you usually have things work out in your favor, in time. On the topic of friendships and relationships, I wish her friendship with Rev. Hayworth had been introduced earlier in the story, so it had more time to progress. He was brought in so close to the end, his character felt a bit like an afterthought to me -- which is a shame because I found him to be one of the best in the story!
The story is enjoyable, but also pretty predictable. There is one very brief burst of violence in one scene that caught me by surprise but otherwise it unfolded just as I figured it would. Predictability aside, it had a fair bit of humor which I really enjoyed, one of the best being the description of a male guest to Edward's house (later on in the story) who seemed to get a little too grab-happy with the female staff so they started referring to him as "the octopus" X-D. My very favorite bit of the novel was Rebecca's time in a seaside village while she tries to recuperate from a severe cold.
I could see a good bit of Austen and Bronte inspiration within this plot. In fact, the Bronte sisters are even referenced at one point in the story. I could see many likenesses to this novel and Jane Eyre especially. So I would say if you are a fan of Jane Austen, the work of the Bronte sisters, the tv show Downton Abbey and faith-based historical fiction, this book might be a perfect fit for you!
POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: There is a brief mention of one character struggling with depression and later choosing to commit suicide.
FTC DISCLAIMER: Ambassador International Publishers kindly provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.