by Katherine Webb
Release Date: August 30th, 2011
2011 HarperCollins Publishers
E-book Edition; 333 Pages
Source: Review Copy from Publisher through NetGalley
3 / 5 Stars
When they were children, Erica Calcott and her sister, Beth, spent their summer holidays at Storton Manor. Now, following the death of their grandmother, they have returned to the grand, imposing house in Wiltshire, England. Unable to stem the tide of childhood memories that arise as she sorts through her grandmother’s belongings, Erica thinks back to the summer her cousin Henry vanished mysteriously from the estate, an event that tore their family to pieces. It is time, she believes, to lay the past to rest, bring her sister some peace, and finally solve the mystery of her cousin’s disappearance.
But sifting through remnants of a bygone time is bringing a secret family history to light—one that stretches back over a century, to a beautiful society heiress in Oklahoma, a haunting, savage land across the ocean. And as past and present converge, Erica and Beth must come to terms with two shocking acts of betrayal . . . and the heartbreaking legacy they left behind.
What first intrigued me about The Legacy was the idea of dark, family secrets left hidden over many generations, a rambling old manor house where a childhood tragedy still had repercussions in the modern world, the allure of shadows and family ghosts and whispers that would be revealed in a slow, delightful and chilling tale. Unfortunately, while the premise was enticing, it did not live up to expectations, and for me, I was somewhat disappointed in this tale that did not meet its promise of secrets and deep, dark truths.
The plot centered around two storylines, one focusing on Caroline and her life in the early 1900's and the other on Beth and Erica in the current year, jumping back and forth through time, as events unfolded. While I thoroughly enjoyed the events in the current time period and really admired the dogged determination and courage that Erica displayed as she tried to keep her sister from sinking back into another depression, and trying to discover the truth behind the tragedy of her childhood, I did not find much connection between the two plotlines and really did not see the point in Caroline's storyline, other than it was compelling to read about the hardships that Caroline faced in her marriage and learning to adapt to life in the untamed west as a rancher's wife. To be honest, I found myself losing admiration for Caroline rather quickly as the novel progressed and found her to be a rather weak and selfish character, despite her love for her husband Corin. I grew rather frustrated with her and just wanted to shake her at times; she needed to get over her self-pity and pity-me attitude and at least try to make things better. Maybe I am too judgmental, but I sometimes wondered what it was that Corin saw in his wife.
I really did enjoy Erica's character and personality and understood her desire to find out the truth at all costs. She seemed to be the only one willing to face the facts and really try to discover what happened in the past and I liked her tenacity, even if she seemed selfish and immature at times. The resulting twists and turns were rather fascinating, but as I already mentioned, I think they got bogged down by the trips in the past. While I normally like the dual/multiple narratives, I felt they did more harm than good in this novel and by the end of the novel, I had lost interest in what was happening and just read to finish it. As hard as I tried, I just didn't make the connectionm and it left me feeling detached from the events and from the characters.
The Legacy definitely had some moments that were fascinating, with some interesting twists and turns, but unfortunately, the dual narrative did not quite work out the way I think the author intended and it left me feeling detached from the events and the characters as I just could not get the connection between the events, other than the lasting sense of regret. Don't get me wrong, the trips to the past were really intriguing and I read them avidly, it's just that as a whole, I felt the dual plotlines just didn't mesh and the result left me feeling unsatisfied and frustrated with the ending. Despite all of this, I feel there is great potential here, and I am looking forward to seeing further works from the author in the future.