An unpretentiously philosophical assessment of class and love.


When It Rained at Hembry Castle

From the The Hembry Castle Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A romantic historical novel that examines a clash of classes in 19th-century England.

When the eighth Earl of Staton dies, it paves the way for the succession of his brother, Richard Meriwether, who isn’t generally considered by his family, or by himself, to be suitable for the throne. In fact, he’s so daunted by his new position he seems eager to shirk his duties. He’s also unwed and lacks a prospective heir, though rumors swirl that he might have already fathered an illegitimate child. His niece, Daphne, raised in Connecticut, returns to Hembry Castle with her father, Frederick, who’s taken over editing the Daily Observer. Frederick is known as “the wayward” because he exiled himself to study literature at Oxford University and then made a life in America to avoid the stuffy trappings of aristocracy. His daughter, Daphne, was raised according to this ideal, and she struggles to acclimate herself to her strange new environment that’s also her birthright. She meets Edward, a reporter and rising literary star who works for Frederick; the two are immediately drawn to each other, but because his grandparents work as help at the castle, the two are separated by a yawning chasm of socioeconomic disparity. Also, Edward is already engaged to Christina, though the new situation challenges his feelings for her: “He had convinced Christina that Miss Meriwether was nothing to him. Now he only had to convince himself.” Allard (History Will Be Kind, 2015, etc.) is a seasoned author, and her experience shows in both the lapidary prose and the sensitivity with which she treats class division. Edward, for example, comes from humble origins, but he’s shown to be actually more comfortable with upper-class stodginess than Daphne is, as he grew up in the castle. Daphne’s father, meanwhile, is marvelously progressive, but it’s intriguingly unclear if he’s completely liberated himself from his affluent station. Overall, this is a delightful, often funny story that also serves as a gimlet-eyed study of class division and the possibility of its transcendence.

An unpretentiously philosophical assessment of class and love.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-63140-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Copperfield Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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