The lives of the British upper-class must be fascinating to those of us mere “normals”, because I can’t get enough of shows like Downton Abbey, and now books like Rutherford Park…
Rutherford Park opens with the lady of the house, Octavia Cavendish, answering her husband on why she was downstairs in the morning – to take a look at a tree that had fallen overnight. Apparently it’s not the thing to do when one is a Cavendish. Neither is running barefoot across the lawn, or a hundred million other things like having fun, laughing out loud (for real), or having an opinion…
Ok, maybe that last was a little harsh. But Octavia Cavendish didn’t expect that marriage would make her a mannequin – lovely to behold, but that’s about it.
Now she has a house party to get the house ready for – not that she’s allowed to do anything but be, since it’s definitely a huge no-no to get involved in the actual doings; the butler and housekeeper would have her head. Then again, things are brewing that would have the butler and housekeeper up in arms anyway.
Rutherford Park is a story of a family that really doesn’t seem like one – the son who disavows his affair, the wife who’s neglected and ignored, the husband who rails against change. It’s also the story of the lower class working the house, their strict rules and regulations, their judgmental outlooks, and their day-to-day lives. Everyone has a role, each role has its boundaries, and heaven help you if you cross the line.
Mostly though, it’s a story of a woman whose marriage is barely bearing up under the strain of a husband who doesn’t seem to care for her, a household who doesn’t want her, and a son who’s itching to spread his wings and fly. Octavia’s emotions are kept tightly in check, and I wondered as I was reading, how does she do it? I’d probably be in bedlam with the expressing of frustration that she manages to hold in. All I know is, I wouldn’t trade my current-time existence for hers, huge house full of servants et al notwithstanding.
If you love Downton Abbey, pick this up! There’s enough drama to satisfy the pickiest fan, and the ending leaves just a little bit of wriggle room for a sequel. Or so a fan can hope! 🙂
drey’s rating: Excellent!
Have you read Rutherford Park? What did you think?