- I read The Legacy by Katherine Webb and enjoyed it.
Summary from GoodReads:
England, 1911. The Reverend Albert Canning, a vicar with a passion for spiritualism, leads a happy existence with his naive wife Hester in a sleepy Berkshire village. As summer dawns, their quiet lives are changed for ever by two new arrivals. First comes Cat, the new maid: a free-spirited and disaffected young woman sent down from London after entanglements with the law. Cat quickly finds a place for herself in the secret underbelly of local society as she plots her escape. Then comes Robin Durrant, a leading expert in the occult, enticed by tales of elemental beings in the water meadows nearby. A young man of magnetic charm and beauty, Robin soon becomes an object of fascination and desire. During a long spell of oppressive summer heat, the rectory at Cold Ash Holt becomes charged with ambition, love and jealousy; a mixture of emotions so powerful that it leads, ultimately, to murder.
Oh Katherine Webb, what are you doing to me? You take some of the most delicious, fantastic ideas and put them into a story that I cannot resist and then you mix it with the most frustrating, aggravating details. But I can’t stop reading and I struggle with myself because I want to give your story five stars, but then there are so many little nagging elements that drag it down for me!
Okay, now that the rant is out of the way, let me tell you what I loved and what I hated about The Unseen.
First of all – mystery in 1911/2011 England? Yes please. Throw in mildly supernatural elements, prim and prissy Victorian-style husband and wife, maid with a bad-girl vibe, and shyster and it’s the recipe for a delicious, dark, romantic English story.
What Katherine Webb does remarkably well is set her story up. I loved Cat and her addition to the household, I loved the dynamics between Hester and her husband, and the little scraps of letters which served as a catalyst to move the story forward. I loved the romance which flares up and the backbone Cat displays and the slowly unraveling story of what happened in Cat’s background. Everything about each one of these things was perfectly paced and beautifully described. I couldn’t ask for more.
Here’s what I hated though, and though these were BIG things for me during the reading, upon reflection they are just nagging, I really wish she would have done better because I believe she could have! I felt as if Webb was underestimating the intelligence of her reader a bit. The entire 2011 setting was boring, and frankly toward the end of the book I was actually tempted (although I didn’t) to skim or just skip it completely. I felt as if it’s sole purpose was to give us a reason to investigate the story and that the book would have been completely fine without it. There was no real resolution that made it absolutely necessary.
Also I was a bit confused about how detailed a 100 year old corpse could be when it was found. Maybe I just don’t know enough about corpses – so I’ll leave that one be.
I think a lot of the things that bothered me about this book also bothered me in The Legacy by Katherine Webb, so I’m wondering if it’s just her style of writing. If you like authors such as Kate Morton, I think it’s possible you will love Webb’s books as well, just don’t expect the same level of story-crafting that is available in Morton’s books.
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