For generations, the members of the Swann family have been faithful servants and loyal friends to the members of Yorkshire's aristocratic Ingham family, the owners and inhabitants of the imposing Cavendon Hall. Trusted with the Inghams’ innermost secrets and sworn by oath to protect them body and soul, the Swanns take their duties seriously.
The relationship isn't one-sided, though. The Inghams realize what they have in the Swanns and value it to the point of considering the Swanns treasured members of their large, extended family. After so many years of loyal service, it's hard to tell where one clan ends and the other begins. Although they know the treasure they have in the Swanns, the Inghams are about to enter a period of trials that will drive home the value of the service of this stalwart family.
"Readers who are already familiar with Bradford's work will smile to see that she's at the top of her game, while newcomers will scratch their heads and wonder how they've missed out all these years."
At the head of the Ingham family is Charles Ingham, the Sixth Earl of Mowbray, and his wife, Felicity. The parents of two sons and four daughters, the Inghams have their hands full raising their children and running an estate filled with many people who count on them for a living. At their side are numerous members of the Swann family working to fill a variety of vital positions.
As the story begins in 1913, both families are blissfully unaware of the approach of World War I, as they are consumed by the concerns that feature prominently in their own little world. Their problems range from those as simple as how to repair a ruined ball gown to those as complicated as how to protect a young woman's reputation and preserve her sanity once her innocence has been shattered by a violent attack. Through it all, however, the two families stick together.
When a long-banished member of the family contacts Mowbray with a request to return home, the Inghams and the Swanns wonder how his reappearance will affect them all. Only time will reveal the purpose of his visit and his place in the family he hasn't seen since he was a young boy. Will his visit bring them happiness or heartache?
In the midst of the turmoil, there's someone who plots against the Ingham family and would love nothing more than to be the author of their downfall. Who would set into motion the campaign to destroy the family that tries never to harm and only to help others? Will the Inghams and the Swanns be able to determine who's against them and protect their own before it's too late?
CAVENDON HALL is a thrilling new family saga told by the queen of the epic drama herself, Barbara Taylor Bradford. With every word on the page, she breathes life into each character until we come to know and love them. She also makes Yorkshire, England, a place we're intimately familiar with, even if we've never had the opportunity to visit. Readers who are already familiar with Bradford's work will smile to see that she's at the top of her game, while newcomers will scratch their heads and wonder how they've missed out all these years.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on May 2, 2014