My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Apparently this novel was first released in 11 weekly episodes, but I read the whole book over the course of two days.
The book is set predominantly in 1841. Fellowes takes the reader by the hand and takes them through a mystery and a romance filled with class issues that range from the servants to the upper echelons of society.
If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you will probably enjoy this book as it takes care to make sure details are all correct and accounted for. Julian Fellowes is well able to write a historical book with ease. Plot points range from the legitimacy of a marriage to the future of the offspring of said relationship. It looks at class conflict with servants, traders, and upper class all being put on display. The story isn’t a huge revelation of a new storyline, it is a romance of sorts, but rather wraps itself around tried and true topics that makes Fellowes an ace at the genre.
There is only the briefest of chapters to introduce us to Sophia and Edmund. From this speedy introduction the reader is left to try and determine if Edmund was a scoundrel who seduced the innocent Sophia or if he was an honourable man. Then we are taken 25 years into the future where the progeny of this relationship and is shown to be good looking man, kind, honourable, and blessed with a natural ability in business. In a manner, he was the perfect son born unfortunately into illegitimacy. Fellowes explores the uncomfortable mixing of class ranks in this book.
A great read for the historically minded.