Thursday, July 23, 2015

Newport (Book Review)

Please join Jill Morrow, author of Newport, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours:
Publication: Trade Paperback, William Morrow, July 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 1920s Newport, Rhode Island

Plot: When Adrian de la Noye, a prestigious Boston attorney, is summoned to Newport to draft a new will for a wealthy client he is surprised to learn the elderly but very affluent Bennett Chapman is engaged to a lovely woman half his age, considered a fortune hunter by his adult children. Chapman’s children believe the fiancée, Catherine Walsh, and her niece Amy, are charlatans because they have conducted seances in which Chapman’s deceased wife allegedly appeared and commanded Chapman to marry Catherine. As if this did not present a dilemma for a legal professional, Adrian recognizes Catherine instantly as Cassie Walsh, daughter of his family’s cook, from his long ago past. Adrian and his young legal associate, Jim, who falls hard for the elfin Amy, are determined to learn the secrets behind the Walsh women’s appearance and mysterious channeling of the deceased Mrs. Chapman, although it becomes clear to the reader that Adrian has some painful secrets of his own he would prefer to keep hidden...

Audience: Fans of historical fiction about the 1920s.  This also reminded me of the movie, Magic in the Moonlight, which I recommend.

What I liked: This was a fun and fast paced read, set in the very romantic setting of a glamorous Newport mansion, although it is set mostly away from the glitzy parties of the rich and famous. I enjoyed the mixture of the 1920s story (a period I find very intriguing) with secret upon secret: mysterious séances; dastardly adult children trying to spoil their father’s alleged happiness with a second wife; an idealistic young lawyer learning his hero has feet of clay; and the flashbacks to young love. There was even an attractive and sensible character named Constance (a name usually held by the villainess)!  I also liked the character of the judge who appears late in the story.  The author left the ending open for a sequel.

What I disliked: There was a big reveal and it was surprising – Cassie’s past and elements of her friendship with Adrian – but it was based on a premise so completely unconvincing that it weakened the end of the book for me (see spoiler below). Because I couldn’t understand Cassie’s motivation, I found it hard to like her, and I did not approve of Adrian’s keeping secrets from his client that affected his representation. Also, it wasn’t plausible that Adrian could have attended Andover and Harvard, and subsequently changed his name while living in and having a successful career in Boston. As I can tell you, I can barely walk down the street in Boston without seeing a Harvard classmate and if I changed my name, those classmates would start asking why and would not allow me to go on practicing law unchallenged.  I am sure it was just the same a hundred years ago!  Long before the Internet there were gossipy friends and neighbors so if you are going to change your name, find a small town far from the East Coast and all your fellow alumni (wait, isn’t that was the Unabomber did?). Although what seemed like holes in the plot left me a little disgruntled when I finished reading, I enjoyed the book and, after all, isn't the best compliment to an author when you are still ruminating over the twists and turns several days later?
Source: I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. Please visit other stops on the tour and connect with the author on Facebook and Twitter.
 
Tuesday, July 7th: BookNAround
Wednesday, July 8th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, July 10th: West Metro Mommy
Monday, July 13th: The many thoughts of a reader
Tuesday, July 14th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, July 15th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, July 16th: Walking With Nora
Friday, July 17th: View from the Birdhouse
Saturday, July 18th: Luxury Reading
Monday, July 20th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Tuesday, July 21st: Raven Haired Girl
Wednesday, July 22nd: Charmingly Modern
Thursday, July 23rd: FictionZeal
Monday, July 27th: A Book Geek
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Spoiler: I can understand a book (and have read several) where the heroine seeks revenge on her rapist or assailant but I have a hard time understanding plotting or participating in an undertaking to marry his father and to subject a child to the knowledge that she was fathered by such a vile person (probably a hard secret to keep indefinitely even if he does not recognize you). Perhaps it would have been better just to demand financial support (albeit many years before DNA testing)? And how did the deceased mother know her son was a rapist? Are we supposed to believe that there are no secrets on the other side of the veil? I suppose that is as likely as the communication from beyond the grave in the first place!

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I love the 1920s as a setting - it always gives a story that extra little something that I really enjoy.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!