Just came across one I wrote last year – had forgotten about it – probably for obvious reasons!
Wentworth Hall – Abby Grahame
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
An unabashed devotee of historical fiction, this reader leapt at the chance to review this novel – purportedly a ‘Downtown Abbey’ aimed at the YA market. Hmmm, well, after a very slow start, one started laughing and was surprised as one didn’t expect it to be a spoof. Oops, apparently it’s not meant to be!
For those of a certain age, or those who enjoy revisiting vintage British programs – recall if you can, The Forsyte Saga – yes, that’s right the black-and-white series from the 60s, based on the novels by John Galsworthy. Melodrama, hammy acting, every cliché known to humanity. Now combine that with perhaps The Bold and The Beautiful – histrionics, hokey performances, every banality known to scriptwriting.
Shallow characters, slight plot (eventually) hanging by a thread, and of course, the usual plethora of family secrets, unpleasant people, illegitimacy, unwanted suitors, star-crossed lovers – you name it, it’s there.
One doesn’t like to disparage a first novel – after all, it has been considered worthy to publish –and apparently, Ms Graham is enamoured of historical fiction, albeit may it be suggested without real in-depth knowledge or research. For example, in the early 20th century when the class system was still very entrenched in England, it would be hard to believe that a very young maid raised by charity within the one stately family home would be able to quote Shakespeare or articulate with a vocabulary that would be more at home with an Oxford scholar.It is not suggested that this shouldn’t be put on the library shelves, but please don’t expect quality literature – essentially, a slight novel of little worth – that may divert a girl looking for a undemanding read.