Wednesday, January 23, 2013

REVIEW: Secrets and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Secrets and Sapphires is the first book in a new series called 'At Somerton' by Leila Rasheed.  It's been billed as 'Gossip Girl meets Downton Abbey' and I was hugely excited to read it.  While it's always been a bit hit-and-miss with historical fiction for me, I found myself to be hugely excited to read this book and I wasn't at all disappointed.  In fact, I kind of want to read more in this series AND finally start watching Downton Abbey!

Despite the fact that there is quite a large cast of characters that crop up in this slim book, I didn't find myself at all confused, as I thought I might, between all of the characters and their different storylines. In fact, half way through reading Secrets and Sapphires, I thought to myself that I'm really quite glad that there a huge number of characters, as I'm hoping that there will be more stories to be told! I'd definitely be interested.

In this book, we are introduced to the residents, both upstairs and downstairs at Somerton Court.  Despite living a great deal of time in India, the Averley family have returned following the disgrace of Lord Averley in the military in India. Lord Averley is to wed a wealthy widow and her and her children descend upon Somerton Court and shake things up a bit in terms of scandal and scheming and secrets.  It was such fun to witness.

I really loved all of the characters, but the storylines that I was most interested in were that of Ada and Rose's.  Ada is a lady and she's getting ready for her first season in London, but she couldn't care less about it.  Instead, Ada daydreams not of balls and gowns but for the life of an Oxford student.  She wants to make something of herself be educated.  And despite the marriage proposal of an older family friend, Ada also finds herself with growing romantic feelings for the man's protege, Ravi.  Despite how society would view such a match as Ada and Ravi, they continue to correspond with each other via the help of Ada's new maid, Rose.

Now Rose was always going to uncover some great secret about herself that her mother has been hiding all these years, but I still wanted good things for Rose.  She's musically very gifted, but because of her station in life, she's never been able to practice the piano freely. Like Ada, she wants more for herself but feels helpless in the pursuit of her dreams.

While Rose and Ada help each other in the struggles of maintaining a forbidden friendship with a man and Rose's continuation of playing the piano, the rest of the house is a nest of scandal and secrets.  Charlotte and her maid Stella are particularly sneaky and deceiving and I loved to hate them both! It was also interesting to see Sebastian's difficulties in dealing with a former lover. 

All in all, Secrets and Sapphires was a hugely fun novel to read, with many different strands of narrative joining together to paint a complex picture of scandal and society. I cannot wait to read more in this series!



10 comments:

  1. Oh I'm not a huge historical fiction fan either, but the blend of stories in this sounds really promising, I'm glad you enjoyed this Michelle, and it's a UK YA? Bonus! :)

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    1. I really did love this one, I think it's going to make for a really great series :)

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  2. There were definitely a huge cast of characters, but you're right, you didn't lose track of any of them.

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    1. Which I think says a lot about how it's written! It could be very confusing, but it never is.

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  3. Fab review, this is top of my wishlist!

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    1. Thanks, I hope you get your hands on a copy soon! :)

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  4. This sounds like a fun read. I mean, Downton is a brilliant programme, so comparing it to that caught my attention. Gossip Girl makes me screw up my face, but I may give it a shot because I do love historical fiction and I don't read nearly enough of it.

    Great review! :)

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    1. I've never watched Downton Abbey! But this one is definitely very fun :)

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  5. This sounds BRILLIANT. I might just been a teeny bit obsessed with Downton Abbey, so that might have something to do with my interest. And you really need to start watching it!

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    1. I should, shouldn't I? Oh, all right then.. :)

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