Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Forgotten Room

Title:  The Forgotten Room
Author:  Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig
Publication Information:  NAL. 2016. 384 pages.
ISBN:  0451474627 / 978-0451474629

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "The patter of rain against the blacked-out stained glass dome above where I sat numbed me like a hypnotist's gold watch."

Favorite Quote:  "Do I want to know where I came from? Yes. But that doesn't impact who I want to be. My past - that's the work of other people. What I do - that's up to me."

Three time periods. Three heroines. Three interrelated love stories. Three authors. The Forgotten Room is a collaboration between bestselling authors Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig. I don't know if each wrote one of the time period or if the collaboration occurred in a different way. The story flows seamlessly together without differences in the writing style, the pace or the tone of the story.

In 1892, we have Olive. This story is a story of revenge and a story of the social classes. Olive is a maid in the Pratt household; Harry is one of the Pratt boys. Olive brings a history and a secret that leads her to take the position in this particular household. The conclusion of that secret is the only surprise in Olive's story. The rest proceeds as a typical upstairs and downstairs story.

In 1920, we have Lucy. This is the story of a search for the past and the story of a young woman seeking an independent life. Lucy is a secretary for an attorney. She brings a history and a secret that leads her to take this position with this particular firm. For Lucy comes the choice between John Ravenel and Philip Schuyler. Given Kate's last name, it's clear how Lucy's story ends. The only open question is why.

In 1944, we have Kate's story. This is a story of war and of a young woman looking to create a career in what is still a man's world. Kate is a doctor in a time when women typically did not enter the field. She is fighting the battle to be accepted for her qualifications both by the male doctor and the female nurses. Along comes Cooper Ravenel, an injured soldier who behaves as if he has seen Kate before. Can Kate's independence co-exist with a relationship? That is the choice facing Kate.

The book moves in rotating chapters between the three stories. Since the timeline of the stories is clear and the connection between the three becomes clear quickly, the endings of Olive's story and Lucy's story are a foregone conclusion. That removes any suspense from their stories, but they are still enjoyable to read for each chapter moves just a bit closer to that conclusion.

This book is a neatly, packaged tale. Common thread binds all three women and the men who enter their lives. The shared history comes through relationships but also through the setting of the book. The Pratt mansion becomes a women's boarding house for Lucy and a wartime hospital for Kate. The forgotten room in the attic becomes the place with all three stories unfurl.

Sometimes, the parallels between the three are too closely linked. Each woman has a societal norm against which they struggle. Each has a love that may or may not become her future. The book has no big surprises, no real twists, and a predictable conclusion. Sometimes, that is just what you need. A cozy book, a cup of tea, and a comfy couch to create a lovely afternoon escape.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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