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Downton Abbey Meets Gossip Girl

Erin reviews Wentworth Hall, a book for all of you sorely missing your weekly fix of Lady Mary and Branson, the world's worst chauffeur.

Downton Abbey Meets Gossip Girl
Why didn't Guy Number 1 just carry some Grey Poupon around with him if he was always craving it? The shit comes in a plastic container; it ain't rocket science. Trick your Rolls out with, like, every type of mustard Grey Poupon makes! Dijon! Treat yoself! Honey Mustard! Treat yoself! Spicy brown! Treat yoself!

BOOK REPORT for Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

Cover Story: Pardon Me, Do You Have Any Grey Poupon?
BFF Charm: Maybe Yes, Maybe No
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Lost In Austen
Bonus Factors: FOOD, Upstairs/Downstairs
Relationship Status: We Could Have Each Other With Tea

Cover Story: Pardon Me, Do You Have Any Grey Poupon?

Remember those old Grey Poupon commercials where the one person would always drive up to the other person and they were both in, like, Rolls Royces, and the one guy would ask the other guy in a very snooty voice if he had any Grey Poupon (which, for those of you living in a sad land without Grey Poupon, is a dijon mustard)? Those commercials always bothered me for two reasons. 1) Why is Guy Number 2 always eating a sandwich in the back seat of his Rolls? You're gonna get crumbs on that shizz! And also cause the sandwich is never toasted, and WHAT IS THE POINT OF BEING RICH IF YOU EVER HAVE TO EAT AN UNTOASTED SANDWICH? But also 2) why didn't Guy Number 1 just carry some Grey Poupon around with him if he was always craving it? The shit comes in a plastic container; it ain't rocket science. Trick your Rolls out with, like, every type of mustard Grey Poupon makes! Dijon! Treat yoself! Honey Mustard! Treat yoself! Spicy brown! Treat yoself!

I'm just sayin; you don't catch me out and about without a tiny bottle of truffle oil and a small jar of Tony Chachere's, just in case I happen upon something that isn't rich enough or spicy enough. And I don't even have a Rolls Royce. I have a Honda Fit. And the window's broken and doesn't roll down. So, there.

So, anyway, I don't know; that's what this book cover reminds me of.

The Deal:

The Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall aren't too unlike our favorite folks at Downton Abbey, although no one has fucked a Turk to death. Yet. 18 year old Maggie has just returned from a year abroad in France, and she's no longer the spirited, coltish girl that her younger sister Lila or her former paramour, Michael the groom, remember her to be. Lord Darlington is grumpy and hemorraging money, not least because Lady Darlington has just had their fourth child, baby James. Wesley's abroad in America; the new French nanny Therese knows more than she should, and servant Nora can't seem to know enough.

When the Darlingtons receive some house guests by way of the new-monied Fitzhughs and scandalous satires start showing up in the town's paper, everything starts coming to a boil. And it won't be long until someone's secret comes out . . .

BFF Charm: Maybe Yes, Maybe No

This book doesn't have a true Main Character (written in third person omnicient, each of the characters I mentioned above gets an equal amount of page time), which makes for an interesting reading experience - I didn't feel bogged down by any characters who I maybe didn't enjoy too much. But that also means I never really got a chance to root for any of them. I think I would really like Maggie and Lila, but I didn't get enough time to know for sure. So I have to reserve judgement, sadly.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

There's definitely some swoon in this book, but in appropriate Olden Days fashion, it's fairly chaste swoon. (Well, at least what's presented on the page.) I found myself rooting most for Lila, the overlooked younger sibling, and hoping that some wise (rich) young boy would see how cute and funny she was!

Talky Talk: Lost In Austen

This book is definitely geared to fans of Regency and Victorian literature or costume dramas. (Side note: why are costume dramas called costume dramas? I mean, everyone in Star Wars is in a costume but we don't call it a costume drama.) But unlike actual books of that time period, this is a very quick, easy read. It's got a lot of juicy scandal, like in Downton Abbey, without being burdened by being too convoluted.

Bonus Factor: FOOD

Lord, the food in this book!! I mean, Grahame doesn't go on and on about it, or anything, but anytime Maggie or Lila talk about getting some breakfast, my tummy grumbled with jealousy. Scones! Puddings! Fry ups! Yes, please!

Bonus Factor: Upstairs/Downstairs

Any good gentry-drama has to include a little Downstairs action into its story. The servants of Wentworth Hall are worried about their jobs, trying to make ends meet with the meager salary that Lord Darlington pays them, and know all the juicy gossip way ahead of the rest of the family.

Casting Call:

Emilia Clarke as Maggie

Kit Harington as Michael

Guess who succumbed and finally started watching Game of Thrones? Guess guess guess!

Relationship Status: We Could Have Each Other With Tea

I'll be honest; this book wasn't precisely my cup of tea. It really should have been, cause, costumes! Crumbling stately homes! Scandal! But while I Skechers-liked it, I didn't Prada-backback-love it. That said, I'd definitely invite it over for tea, where we could wear fancy dresses and lift our eyebrows at all the scandalous gossip we exchanged. But it's not staying over for the hunt. No telling what it'd do with our Turkish diplomat.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Big Honcho Media. I received neither cocktails nor money for this review (damnit!). Wentworth Hall will be available in stores on May 1st!

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
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