Based on the real Gladys Spencer-Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough lead an interesting life that, nearly a century later, is getting revisited by a young woman who happens upon Gladys’ biography. Annie joins her mother on a trip out to the English countryside. While her mother attends to business, Annie becomes consumed with finding out more about the elusive Gladys Spencer-Churchill. Told in alternating POVs, the mysterious and storied life of the Duchess of Marlborough unfolds.
First off, despite the title of this novel, the majority of it is actually set in Oxfordshire, a countryside in England. I thought the format was an interesting way to tell this tale, at times utilizing the writing of a biography as the way to get Gladys’ story out. In one way, it worked as it allowed for multiple characters to flush out the narrative, however on the other hand, it sometimes felt too dense with information overload.
Additionally, one element of the book that I felt didn’t quite fit with the rest of the story was the ongoing theme of war. It worked in the 1970s POV, but the inclusion of it in the 2001, post-9/11, timeline felt out of place. There was even one point where one of the characters got a bit heated about the “present-day” war that it felt like it was the author trying to insert a personal opinion about it. I’m certainly not begrudging the opinion, but it seemed out of place and oddly specific of an issue to rant off on a tangent about. Especially when, in the end, it really didn’t have a whole lot to do with the bigger picture anyway.
Overall, while I think the book could have been a little bit shorter, it was still an interesting story nonetheless. I enjoyed learning about this woman from history that I had previously not known about and I loved how the two time periods connect with Annie’s research. This would be a great read for those who love a more modern-day historical fiction.
Review: ★ ★ ★ (3 /5 stars)
Available: February 19, 2016 (Paperback is available April 25, 2017)
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A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review