Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Review: The Daughters of Foxcote Manor

by Eve Chase
Release Date: July 21st 2020
2020 G.P. Putnam's Sons
Kindle Edition; 386 Pages
ISBN: 978-0525542384
ASIN: B07ZN352H9
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Outside a remote manor house in an idyllic wood, a baby girl is found.

The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They're grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house's dark, dusty corners. Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour - and the law - don't seem to apply.

But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds. And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.
Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .
My Thoughts
The Daughters of Foxcote Manor is an easy book to read, with three intertwined narratives, two from the past and one from the present; it is basically a story about family relationships, especially that between mothers and daughters, of actions and consequences.  
I have always enjoyed multiple story lines in a novel, but lately there seems to be an abundance of them and they are not always done well.  I think the problem is when one story line is done extremely well, but the others are weaker, and this can take away from the enjoyment of a book as you tend to just flip the pages quickly through those chapters to get to the more entertaining chapters, and this is exactly what started happening to me in this book.  

Rita's story was the strongest part of this book.  A city girl, her desire to be a nanny for a wealthy London family turned upside down as she ends up on a country estate after a traumatic episode within the family.  Furthermore, she is asked to 'spy' on the mother of the children over which she is looking after by the father and this makes Rita very uncomfortable.  Awkward, self-conscious, but brave, she was probably the best part of this book. I really wish the story had focused entirely on her as I think it would have been a lot stronger than it was as I will shortly explain.
Sylvie's story wasn't as interesting for me.  I did enjoy the dynamics between Sylvie and her daughter as they were dealing with Sylvie's mother's accident, but I couldn't quite see why her daughter would behave the way she did other than due to being immature.  Yes, there were family secrets that needed to be revealed, but there could have been another way for them to be revealed, I would think.  It was this story line that the author started to lose me. I was actually way more interested in the dynamics of discovering one didn't love one's husband after many years together and the effect this has on a grown-up daughter who thought everything was perfect.  This dynamic should have been explored a lot more, in my opinion.  This is the part of this story line that was completely fascinating.  
Hera's POV was interesting, but useless.  Unfortunately, what this POV did for me was dislike this character when I think I was supposed to feel some sympathy for her.  I really feel like I would have been more empathetic if I could have just seen her through Rita's eyes. I get that she was an adolescent trying to find her place in the world with a mother who was dealing with possible depression after a traumatic event, but her POV wasn't endearing.  It was used to bring a plot point forward and I think it could have been done in a different way.
The earlier chapters were actually quite interesting and I found myself quite immersed in the story.  But there were a lot of plot points and I think the author was trying so hard to pull together all of those plot points, which she did, that she lost the story and what made it so fascinating at first.  
The Daughters of Foxcote Manor was a good book and I did enjoy it.  I definitely preferred Rita's story line the best as it was the most interesting and I thought the author fleshed out her character and developed her personality really well.  While I can definitely keep track of many plot points and threads, it is easy to lose the thread of a story if the author is too consumed with trying to ensure all of those points reach resolution in the end, and then we tend to see too many coincidences, which is exactly what happened.  So, the story kind of stutters in places and became mundane.  However, the ending was satisfying and sweet.  However, if you are expecting a Gothic treat like Black Rabbit Hall, you may want to avoid this one.   


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