My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Summary: Cavendon Women, the stunning sequel to Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Cavendon Hall follows the Inghams’ and the Swanns’ journey from a family weekend in the summer of 1926 through to the devastation of the Wall Street crash of 1929. It all begins on a summer weekend in July of 1926 when, for the first time in years, the earl has planned a family weekend. As the family members come together, secrets, problems, joys, and sorrows are revealed. As old enemies come out of the shadows and the Swanns’ loyalty to the Ingham gets tested in ways none of them could have predicted, it’s up to the Cavendon women to band together and bring their family into a new decade, and a new way of life.
I began reading this straight away after finishing the first. It picks up six years after the first book and centers around Cecily Swann and Miles Ingham & their prior lost love. Miles wasn't much fleshed out as a character until the last quarter of the first book and neither really was Cecily, so there wasn't a lot of time for me to invest in their romance. I admit to being interested mostly in Cecily the business woman. Honestly, I wanted to know more about Deidre and DeLacy in the first book and was shocked when it's mentioned DeLacy's divorcing when I never even heard about who she'd dated or married to begin with. I felt cheated. Deidre was merely a feared spectre for Dulcie in book one so I was glad she featured more here.
I knew after reading the first book that any situation that would present itself that seemed insurmountable or wholly scandalous given the era, would work out pretty smoothly, so I didn't feel the sort of suspense I did when reading the first. The Inghams out progressive the Granthams with being able to throw off class convention & any kind of care about societal mores of the day. Will it all work out for the Inghams & Swanns? Yes. Almost perfectly and with minor exception. This is definitely the saga to read when you're feeling like you need some Happily Ever After in your reading life.
I did feel that if a character wasn't wholly on Team Ingham-Swann union, they were made out to be thoroughly unlikable. That didn't endear the couples to me or invest me in their destined love any more but rather diminished them a bit because I felt it was unnecessarily heavy handed. The freezing out of Lavina & what it took to get her back into their good graces & the subterfuge of reconciliation to converge on Felicity, reflected poorly on all of them, in my eyes. And the writing took another step saying that Lavinia was aging, losing her looks & apparently had no redeeming qualities her family could detect, when a man expressed romantic interest in her. This losing their looks thing was basically to be the same fate for Felicity and Clarissa when the plot decreed it for no other reason that to underscore why the Ingham men needed to be free of them for their true Swann loves. Sheesh. On the upside, characters always need flaws and this bit definitely fit the bill.
While the romances of the two main couples didn't much surprise, I was very invested in Deidre and DeLacy. I also had some interest in Dulcie but only insofar as another character displayed interest in her & as that was a Swann male, I shouldn't have bothered hoping she'd have any interest in him. That irresistible Ingham-Swann attraction & marrying only goes one way (though there is a long past relationship that's tossed in to give the Swann men a bit of cred & likely set up another plot for the next book). On the whole, I felt Dulcie was obnoxious in the first book and this book just solidified that I just don't like her nor do I find her as amazing as the other characters insist. Deidre and DeLacy's stories made up for just about everything for me here & I look forward to what's next (especially for DeLacy).
Like the first, this is an easy, breezy read and one I'm glad I bought. It that had me eagerly turning the pages to read what happened next and that's all to the good. As I read this over Memorial Day weekend, I'd recommend this as a good summer read.
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