From 1916 to 1923, the Danforth family of Ashton Park, a stately manor in Lancashire, confronts war and class prejudices. The youngest daughter loves the coachman, the eldest son a spirited maid. The parents, with the steady hand of Sir William Danforth, disapprove. The three sons go off to the Great War and serve in France and Ireland. Another son falls in love with a Frenchwoman and rejects his aristocratic betrothed. When the ex-betrothed is discovered to be pregnant, her father seeks revenge—a duel with Sir William. War takes a toll, and Ireland’s fight for freedom brings peril to another daughter’s husband. The servants and grounds help serve them with respect—only one uses connivance. The aristocracy finds their place in the world is crumbling.
The author writes well with beautifully described settings. However, the Danforth sons face frequent danger, but are never once injured. With so many characters and storylines, readers rarely delve deep enough into their point of view to care about them. But those who like quick scenes and heavy Christian rhetoric will enjoy this Downton Abbey-styled book. It’s the beginning of a series.