Burnt Norton by Caroline Sandon

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Burnt Norton by Caroline Sandon

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Dull and depressing with unlikeable characters, this isn't one I'd recommend.
Buy? No Borrow? No
Pages: 320 Date: June 2013
Publisher: Head of Zeus
ISBN: 978-1781850671

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After the death of his youngest son in a terrible accident, Sir William Keyt starts to lose interest in life. It takes meeting young Molly Johnson, a bright and beautiful daughter of a local landlord, to rekindle a spark for him. He brings her into Norton House as a maidservant, where she quickly catches the eye of his bookish eldest son, Thomas. But Sir William wants Molly to be more than a maid to him, and as a rich man and an MP is used to having his own way.

I'm sure there are people out there who want to read three hundred or so pages of bad things happening to worse people; I'm just not one of them. The almost relentlessly bleak plot of Burnt Norton had me rolling my eyes - one or two tragedies happening to a family can make them sympathetic, but after a certain point I just lost interest. On the plus side, with the exception of one completely unrealistic paragon of goodness and a couple of characters who were bland but not actively unlikeable, most people only got what they deserved. (Just a shame they couldn’t have got it a bit sooner!)

To be fair to Sandon, she does a much better job of capturing the feel of the time period, especially the social status of different people, than she does of bringing her characters to life. Additionally, her descriptions of Burnt Norton - where she now lives - are good, particularly when Sir William starts to try and build a bigger Norton in an attempt to impress people. Her writing is fairly fast-paced – it has to be to fit all the calamitous events into a novel of this size!

All in all, though, this is a dull and depressing read which I’d only recommend if you were absolutely desperate to read about the upper classes in the 18th century.

For wonderful historical fiction, I'd recommend anything by Anne O'Brien, but perhaps particularly Devil's Consort.

Buy Burnt Norton by Caroline Sandon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Burnt Norton by Caroline Sandon at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Burnt Norton by Caroline Sandon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Burnt Norton by Caroline Sandon at Amazon.com.


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Caroline Sandon said:

If you want to write such a scathing review you might try to spell my name correctly, and just in case you hadn't noticed, most of the story is based on fact!!

Yours sincerely

Caroline Sandon


Bookbag said:

We apologise for getting your name wrong. It was unforgiveable and has now been corrected. (We originally had Ms Sandon's first name as 'Carolyn'.)


Robert James said:

Many apologies Caroline, not sure what on earth I was thinking of to misspell your name - most embarrassing!

I had noticed that it was based on fact, actually - however you do mention in your author's note that you altered dates and facts. For example, one of the most depressing aspects of the novel (it is being marketed as a novel, after all) was the life of Molly Johnson's illegitimate son and his time at the Foundling Hospital. According to the author's note, It is quite possible that Molly Johnson did have an illegitimate child but her association with the Foundling Hospital is imaginary. I took this to mean that the depressing details of his life were made up - apologies again if this is not the case and I misinterpreted the note.


Caroline Sandon said:

Apologies accepted but I still believe your review to be unjust, unfair and negative. The book if you hadn't noticed was as much about the plight of the working and middle classes in the 18th Century as the upper classes, and though the life of Molly's son was imaginary, it was based on the life of a Foundling. Perhaps you should go to the Foundling Museum before making such sweeping statements, and of course check your spelling!!!!


Bookbag said:

Given that we have apologised about the fact that we spelled your name wrongly and you have accepted our apology are you suggesting that there are further spelling mistakes in the review?


Clementine Medina Marks said:

Good on you Caroline for displaying the inaccuracies and unjustness in the review, which may I say was far superior and more interesting than this drab 'review'. Burnt Norton is in actual fact a brilliant book, beautifully written and utterly captivating. A must read, and I give warning not to trust or believe this bad and base review.
Yours Sincerely, Burnt Norton Reader

P.S I believe this review to be an insult to the site on which it exists. Also if one would like to see how the vast majority of readers view this book read the reviews on Amazon UK.


Bookbag said:

Lady Marks,

We don't normally publish comments from relatives of the author but such a spirited defence of your sister-in-law's book seemed to deserve an exception.