Secrets of Cavendon by Barbara Taylor Bradford

January 19, 2018

Thank you to the lovely Lori at Get Red Pr for sending me Secrets of Cavendon for review! And also to St. Martin's Press for the gorgeous hardcover (you know the way to my heart). There's nothing better than giant hardcover!

I was quite excited to receive this novel since I absolutely obsess over historical fiction novels but was a little apprehensive that since it's from a series, I wouldn't know what was a going on. Fortunately, Bradford revisits story lines and summarizes previous happenings so it wasn't a struggle to figure out what was going on. This book takes place right after WWII and revolves around the Ingham and Swann families and the Cavendon estate and honestly seems like a recipe made just for me.

The first 130 odd pages read like a tedious story being told to you by your posh great Aunt who wears mink stoles even in Summer. When I say 'story' I mean more of an overview of her ancestry spanning decades and decades. It took an entire day for me to get into the story and then to top it off, there are what feels like 100 different story lines going at one time (more like 25) and there's no real plot line to follow. A quick note on Cecily Swann Ingham our main storyline for this section of the book:  she is literally the most boring character I've ever read. I could not get invested in her story at all.

In part three, it starts to get a bit more interesting with the arrival of Adam Fennell, a movie producer who is incredibly creepy and conniving, so we get a bit of action when he starts his process of securing Alicia Stanton as his wife so he can be a part of Cavendon. Finally something interesting! And then soon after, we meet Christopher Longdon, a wounded war hero who falls in love with the talented Victoria when she is assigned to photograph him for a spread in a magazine. If this was the entire novel, it would have been much more enjoyable, but so much of this 388 page tome is weighed down by the family secrets that have NO importance on any storyline.

All in all, this book is all over the place (which is why my review is all over the place! I cannot collect my thoughts.). It is a the equivalent of trying to stuff your sleeping bag back into the original case. There was no plot, no tension, no conflict to resolve. When there was a conflict with Adam Fennell, no one took care of it. Despite (SPOILER ALERT) knowing he was a murderer, his name wasn't really Adam Fennell, and he tried to rape Alicia after she broke off their engagement, and yet, no one did a thing. He was later shot by some random person in the mob weeks after they had any contact with him. (And Alicia's brother KNEW he tried to rape her and didn't go back in the house and beat the tar out of him. Instead they paid him $4,000 so he wouldn't tell people Alicia was conceived out of wedlock and their father isn't her biological father.)

A few more disjointed thoughts:

The characters were all bland and one dimensional. 

Too much of the story was told through tedious dialogue.

Most of the story seemed overly forced and rushed and any conflict was solved immediately with no downtime or repercussions.

Perhaps if you are accustomed to BTB and her Cavendon tales or you like slow every day life soap operas, you might enjoy this. 

My rating 2/5.


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