Fiennders Abbey by Jean Marsh

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Fiennders Abbey by Jean Marsh

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A warm and relaxing read about the fortunes of those upstairs and those downstairs from the co-creator of the series of that name.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: August 2011
Publisher: Pan
ISBN: 978-1447200079

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In was the end of the nineteenth century and the family at Fiennders Abbey might lead much more leisurely lives than the staff who kept the house running as it should, but their fortunes were inextricably linked. Mary Bowden was the tweenie when we first met her – she did all the dirty jobs which were beneath those higher up the ladder – as well as being the daughter of the gamekeeper. She was also intelligent, ambitious and very attractive with her straight, milk-blonde hair. As a child she'd always been very friendly with Richard, the son of the house, but it's not a friendship which either of their mothers wishes to foster.

Richard was sent away to do those things which rich young men do, but once Mary was fourteen she was married off to a local tradesman. It's not long before she's pregnant and this effectively puts an end to the friendship between Mary and Richard. Their friendship was innocent, but others are not – and there's soon a web of relationships to muddy the life of Findlesham village – and the effects will still be felt a century later.

Mary and Richard come off the page fully formed. They're both of their class, but they're not extremes and they're easy to believe in. There's a wide cast of character and I'll confess that I occasionally found it difficult to remember who was who, particularly when father and son had the same name, but very different love interests! Put that to one side though and appreciate the skill with which Jean Marsh draws such perfect period characters without it ever seeming forced and it's fascinating to watch how class divisions and prejudices become sharper as the century nears its end.

It's a good story too although I did find that towards the end I had to keep a close eye on the dates to understand what was happening. If you're looking for a relaxing and entertaining read then this is a book which you might enjoy.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Netherwood by Jane Sanderson and The Haunting by Alan Titchmarsh.

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Buy Fiennders Abbey by Jean Marsh at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fiennders Abbey by Jean Marsh at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Fiennders Abbey by Jean Marsh at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fiennders Abbey by Jean Marsh at


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