Monday, September 12, 2022

"The Secrets of Ashmore Castle"

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is the author of the hugely popular Morland Dynasty novels, which have captivated and enthralled readers for decades. She is also the author of the contemporary Bill Slider mystery series, as well as her recent series, War at Home, which is an epic family drama set against the backdrop of World War I.

Harrod-Eagles applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Secrets of Ashmore Castle, and reported the following:
On page 69, Kitty and Nina, who have been best friends for three years, reflect on the fact that today is their last day at Miss Thornton’s School for Young Ladies in Kensington. It is the end of childhood, the end of the comfort of being together. Kitty’s family is wealthy and titled, so she will be “brought out” as a debutante, and expected to make a brilliant marriage. But she's so desperately shy she dreads meeting strangers, let alone having to talk to members of the opposite sex. Nina, who is clever and confident, is an orphan and has no money or expectations. No important marriage for her: she’ll end up either as a governess or a schoolteacher, and she doesn’t look forward to either.

The book is 500 pages long, so page 69 is rather early on and still in the scene-setting phase, but it does contain the seeds of the plot. Because of Kitty’s shyness, her mother agrees to bring Nina out with her, to give her confidence, and in the course of the coming-out junketings they both meet the men they will marry. And for different reasons, both marriages are problematical.

There’s a lot more to the book, of course. It is a family saga, after all, and the extended family of the Earl of Stainton, his household, and the Castle itself and its environs, all carry the story along. And this is only the first volume in a series, so there is love, conflict, comedy, murder and mayhem to come further down the line. This is not fast-food reading: I hope you will become invested in the people and the place and want to keep visiting with them.

I wouldn’t say you should buy or not buy the book on the basis of page 69, but at the heart of it all are Kitty and Nina and their very different characters, and oddly, that’s what page 69 is about.
Visit Cynthia Harrod-Eagles's website.

My Book, The Movie: Headlong.

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