Friday, February 15, 2013
Cinders and Sapphires
Lady Ada is returning from India, where her father has left his government post in disgrace, only to discover that he is remarrying with little notice. While on the ship, she meets a young man that makes her swoon and begins to show her that India might not be the beautiful place she remembers. Rose is a housemaid at Somerton, Lady Ada's home, but her beauty and composure hint at greater things and her mother holds quite the secret. Lady Ada's new family, the Templeton's, are a very interesting group. Simon seems to be an Oxford playboy, but he's is hiding a very dangerous secret. Michael is a troublemaker who wants nothing but to see the world, but his mother wants him close to home. Charlotte is cruel and conniving and will do whatever it takes to see herself lifted up and her enemies trampled.
Add to this full story the antics of the household staff and their backstabbing, side stories, and dreams and this is one series that is sure to last for quite some time.
The only thing that could have made this book better would have been a cast list and a pronunciation guide. The cast of characters is absolutely huge. While the main characters are Ada and Rose, there are dozens of others that will have some role over the course of the series, and with each chapter coming from a different narrator, you can become confused pretty quickly. My best guess is that there were at least seven different narrators. That's a lot of different points of view. I have a feeling that this will be like a soap opera in that some books will focus on different plot lines and characters while almost ignoring the others.
Also, because this book is set in England, I could have used a pronunciation guide. I had a professor in library school that did a short lesson on British pronunciations and I remember that he wrote Featherstonehaugh on the board and asked us to pronounce it. The whole class said "Feather-stone-ha". He told us it was "Fan-shaw". See how a pronunciation guide would help? It would completely change my reading.
I think that Cinders and Sapphires could have some appeal for adults. It's a quick, full period drama with plenty of deceit and action. Also, I get the feeling that the adults in the story are not just furniture, but they will have important roles in the series, so it's not only the kids that get to have all of the fun.
I can't sign off on this review until I mention the obvious-it's Downton Abbey for the YA set. Not that I've ever watched the show, but you can pretty well tell that was the intention. Give this to readers that long for a more refined type of drama.