Friday, January 18, 2013

Blog Tour - Summerset Abbey

Author: TJ Brown
Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster)
Released: January 15, 2013
Genre: New Adult Historical Fiction
Series: Summerset Abbey #1 
   A BLOOM IN WINTER (Summerset Abbey #2) March 5, 2013
   SPRING AWAKENING (Summerset Abbey #3) August 6, 2013 
Source: Kindle
1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of society and the distant rumblings of war.

Rowena Buxton
Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “under class” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie.

Victoria Buxton
Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret. Now, Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever… 

Prudence Tate
Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as ladies maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls.  And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey… 

TJ Brown is passionate about books, writing, history, dachshunds and mojitos. If she could go back in time, she would have traveled back to England, 1910, Paris, 1927 or Haight-Ashbury, 1967. She resides in the burbs of Portlandia, where she appreciates the weirdness, the microbreweries, hoodies, Voodoo Donuts and the rain.
 There are two aspects of this book, both connected, that make it so amazing. The first thing is the lushness of detail of Edwardian life. Everything sounds so real, and so natural to the way the characters react to it! But more than that, it's the interactions of the characters, the things they have to deal with and how they deal with them and each other, that really makes the historical facts come alive. The relationship between the three girls becomes dictated by societal conventions, and the budding romances of each girl are again shadowed by societal conventions. Even without the historical aspect, the relationships are brilliant and breathtaking. Heartbreaking when things beyond their control affect their relationships, but giddy and fun the way any twenty-something should experience romance.

This era is the perfect setting for this plot, with its rumblings of social change. I asked TJ Brown:

If you were living in Edwardian times and were trying to cause social change, where would you rather be working towards that from: from upstairs in a position of nobility, or from downstairs in a position of service?  

That's actually a really tough question, because there are pros and cons to each position. You'd think that upper-class women had more freedom of movement, but often times they were incredibly hemmed in and the expectations placed on them were very high. However, if you had a great deal of money, your "eccentricities" were often overlooked and working for a good cause was considered an acceptable pastime. Of course, society dictated what a good cause was. And remember, there was a huge difference between American society and English society as far as it pertains to philanthropy and doing good works.  Philanthropy, as we know it, was pretty much created here in the US by incredibly wealthy families who made their fortune in business… something which was rather looked down upon. These people, many of whom wanted to join society but lacked family ties, tried to buy their way in by giving a fortune to hospitals, musical societies, libraries, etc, and attaching their name to it. This gave American rich women far more latitude in working for the social good of others. While standards had definitely loosened during the Edwardian era in England, as far as who was allowed to join polite society, (to a certain extent), the nobles didn't give their money quite as lavishly,(often times there wasn't much money to give) and rarely attached their name to it.  It just wasn't the "done" thing.  Women did good works, of course, but it wasn't as socially acceptable for the upper classes as it was here in the states.

You would think that the lower classes would be so busy surviving, they wouldn't be able to afford the time to work toward social change. Though  social restrictions may not have hampered them as much the practical necessity of earning a living, the  women of the lower classes in both the US and England, were instrumental in working for change, especially as it pertained to suffrage. They often have much less to lose than a woman of higher status and change would affect their lives positively on a much more personal, level. These women were in the trenches of social change. It's harder to embrace change when your life is a comfortable one.

So to answer the original question, I think I would rather be a part of the lower classes when working for social changes… I like being in the trenches!

No comments:

Post a Comment