Summerset Abbey: A Bloom in Winter

Written by T. J. Brown
Review by Nanette Donohue

Wealthy sisters Rowena and Victoria Buxton, along with their friend Prudence Tate, return in this sequel to Summerset Abbey. Victoria is drawn into the fight for women’s suffrage by a charismatic leader, Rowena discovers a passion for flight—not to mention her handsome flight instructor—and Prudence finds that married life is more difficult that she could have imagined. All three women are ambitious and want to experience all the excitement their world has to offer, but each finds herself thwarted by society’s expectations of what a woman should be.

Brown captures the atmosphere of a changing England nicely, although some readers may find this novel heavy on drama and light on history. Each of the main characters presents a different view of the New Woman of the Edwardian era, but they test societal boundaries in ways that are, ultimately, safe. As expected, the novel ends with a dramatic cliffhanger, making readers wonder what will happen to the heroines in the final volume. Though Downton Abbey is the obvious comparison, this book is more focused on the coming-of-age story of its three main characters rather than the societal changes sweeping pre-war England.