Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wonderful review of THE FOLLY AT FALCONBRIDGE HALL



*****REVIEW
The Folly at Falconbridge Hall by Maggi Andersen
May 23, 2013

The Folly at Falconbridge Hall by Maggi Andersen
Publisher: Knox Robinson
Genre: Historical romance
Length: Full (350 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Snapdragon
Vanessa Ashley felt herself qualified for a position as governess, until offered the position at Falconbridge Hall.
Left penniless after the deaths of her artist father and suffragette mother, Vanessa Ashley draws on her knowledge of art, politics and history to gain employment as a governess. She discovers that Julian, Lord Falconbridge, requires a governess for his ten-year-old daughter Blyth at Falconbridge Hall, a huge rambling mansion in the countryside outside London.
Lord Falconbridge is a scientist and dedicated lepidopterist who is about to embark on an extended expedition to the Amazon in search of exotic butterflies. An enigmatic man, he takes a keen interest in his daughter’s education, but Vanessa feels that he may disapprove of her modern methods.
As she prepares her young charge to enter into the modern world, Vanessa finds the girl detached and aloof. As Vanessa learns more about Falconbridge Hall, more questions arise. Why doesn’t Blythe feel safe in her own home? Why is the death of her mother, once famed society beauty Clara, never spoken of? And why did the former governess leave so suddenly without giving notice?
The opening of The Folly at Falconbridge Hall  immediately fills the reader with anticipation; especially if you are a fan of the classic romance novel. It is England in the late nineteenth century, and the new governess Vanessa arrives at Falconbridge Hall. It is The Perfect Setting. Vanessa admits she is less than beautiful – and penniless; our perfect heroine.
She is shown in ‘to the master’s study.’ What phrase could sum up the situation better? It is both a backdrop and statement about the style of life, the man of the house, even the stature of the house. The master is neither cuddly nor dashing, and we see no great hope in him right off the bat. He is, shall we say …intriguing? With a variety of intellectual interests. There are moments when we sense kindness, yet we cannot quite be sure. There is also that rather too interested groom, Lovel, but the romance part of this romance is in no hurry. And there are no early spoilers – just hints, so I’ll make no further comment. At this point, you are as sure as I that when love arrives it will be ‘just right’ as is everything here.
Vanessa’s tale progresses at just the right pace, and we are slowly drawn into the world that is Falconbridge Hall: the community of staff, events and operations of the great hall. Ms. Andersen’s star quality is truly her superbly strong and interesting main character, yet her descriptions are worth notice as well. “…rode around the estate enjoying the titter of swallows in the trees, past the gnarled old apple trees, the grass dotted with fallen fruit after the harvest…” The genteel old world aura is enjoyably supported in the most subtle ways throughout.
Oh, but a tiny, almost unnoticed thread of disquiet twists its way through the tale. The thread regards a ‘captive’ beauty and that too, is worth waiting for. It is a curiosity, but also, perhaps, ominous. Vanessa’s life will go on an unpredictable course…Author Maggi Andersen never disappoints in the wonderful romance, that truly transports readers to this other, older world. Reading this novel is sitting down hoping for a proper tea and being served fruit cake along with the plum jam and scones. My recommendation: put this right to the top of your reading list.

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