Author: Katherine Longshore
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Rating: 3 Stars
The year is 1911. And at The Manor, nothing is as it seems...
Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy, and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure. And most of all, romance.
Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn't sure she possesses the courage -- or the means -- to break free and follow her passions.
Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives. . . forever. - Summary from Goodreads
This is historical fiction that feels like you’re in that time period, not like the year was just chosen for the heck of it. All the little details of everyday life make it special. It is duel narrated so as the reader we are able to experience both the “upstairs world” where the family of the house lives, and the “downstairs world” where the servants are.
I found the downstairs world more interesting because it had more things happening and interesting interactions between the servants. I really liked Janie, she’s a hardworking kitchen maid whose dream is to one day be a cook. One of the best things about her is that she’s not jealous of anyone around her, including Charlotte, she knows where her place in the world is and all she has ever wanted to be is a cook. She doesn’t want more and she doesn’t need more. Janie is also incredibly kind, practically saint-like, when dealing with Charlotte.
Charlotte is not a cruel or stuck up character, she’s actually really sweet and it was fun to see her experience the downstairs world and interacting with the servants who have always been in her house, but she has never seen. But Charlotte is clueless and Janie has to pay for it on multiple occasions and in multiple ways. Charlotte might on some level realize that maybe she shouldn’t have done that (whatever “that” was) but she is never aware of how much Janie takes because of her. All the while Janie is being the most perfect friend in the world while listening to Charlotte grip about how terrible her life is. In Charlotte’s defense she does realize that it probably sounds stupid to Janie, but Janie is the only person she feels she can talk to so she lets everything out.
Both are trapped by the expectations of how to act, where to be, and who to talk to. Although it is Charlotte’s house she is forbidden from going downstairs, and although Janie has lived there for four years she cannot go upstairs. Both worlds have their own hierarchy and rules and both of the characters pay for it when they break those rules. I like that it showed the problems that came with both lives instead of only focusing on one, but I hated the fact that Charlotte made Janie’s life harder for her.
Overall I liked the setting, world, and (mostly) the characters, but Charlotte’s cluelessness ruined it for me, and I felt like the ending itself was a little too perfect.-Christina