STORY: Return to the stately environs of Rutherford Park and the embattled Cavendish family—from the author of The Wild Dark Flowers.
The rain fell softly on the day that she was to be married…Sometimes the longing for the old untouched days at Rutherford would return to her; the innocence of it all, the feeling that England would never change…
Charlotte Cavendish has been dreaming of her old home at Rutherford Park. It is April 1917; she is nineteen years old. And everywhere there is change. The war still rages on the Continent, where her brother fights for the Royal Flying Corps. Her parents’ marriage is in jeopardy, with her mother falling for a charming American in London.
But not all is grim. Charlotte is marrying Preston, the blinded soldier whom she nursed back to health. Her parents couldn’t be happier about this. The young man hails from a well-established and wealthy family in Kent, and he’s solid and respectable. They hope he’s the one to tame their notoriously headstrong daughter.
But as time passes, Charlotte slowly comes to the realization that she is not truly happy. And for a reason she is only just beginning to understand. A reason she dare not reveal to the family—or the world…
REVIEW: 1917 – England
World War I is at its height and there have been so many changes in everyone’s life. Men, both young and mature, have gone to war to fight for their country. The casualties are mounting. Women have joined up to become nurses. Rationing has been put into place. But some places have seen little change.
Rutherford Park is the home of the Cavendish family. Lord and Lady Cavendish are separated. Lady Octavia Cavendish is in love with a wealthy American man and lives openly with him in London. Her husband, Lord William Cavendish, remains at Rutherford stoically waiting and hoping that his wife will return to him. Rutherford Park is beautiful and the remaining workers do all they can to care for it even though the number of them has been greatly reduced due to the war.
Lord and Lady Cavendish have three grown children. Harry, the first born and heir, is currently serving in the war as a pilot. He has been injured and has endured several operations on his leg, and has just been informed by the doctors that he needs an additional operation. Harry had had an affair with a housemaid some years earlier which resulted in her becoming pregnant and she died giving birth to a little girl. His daughter lives at Rutherford under the watchful eye of his sister, Christine. He has been in love with a nurse named Caitlin but has not heard from her in awhile and worries about her safety. He longs to see her again.
Christine Cavendish worries her mother in that she is content to stay at Rutherford caring for her niece. She wants her to come to London and perhaps meet a nice young man. But, Christine is in love – with the stable master’s son who is off to war in a veterinary capacity. She keeps her secret from her parents knowing they would not approve of her marrying “beneath” her.
Charlotte Cavendish has recently married, Michael, a young man she grew to know when she worked with some of the injured men. Michael was blinded but has learned to get on with life. But problems with Michael have forced her to leave him. She has fled to her very good friend, Christine, who is an artist. Even though her mother has told her she needs to return to her husband, Charlotte, while respecting her mother, has essentially replied with something akin to the pot calling the kettle black.
How each of these characters handle what life has dealt them is very inspiring. The book follows these characters and many others. Readers are taken to the battlefields and see firsthand the horrors that these men endure. We also see it from the side of a young German man. The inconceivable exhaustion everyone endured is eloquently presented in the novel. It is a story that will stay with readers for a long time to come.
This is the third novel in this series. Book One is “Rutherford Park,” followed by Book Two “The Wild Dark Flowers” and finally, this one, “The Gates of Rutherford Park.” Downton Abbey readers will love this series and I highly recommend it.
Connie for b2b