The Legacy by Katherine Webb
Author: Katherine Webb
Genre: Fiction (Historical / 1900s / New York City / American West/ Ranching / Family / Contemporary / UK / Estates)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (8/30/2011)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Did I finish?: I did -- I couldn't put it down!
One-sentence summary: One family, two terrible secrets, and a young woman obsessed with solving both.
Reading Challenges: British Books, Historical Fiction
Do I like the cover?: I do, but it doesn't fit the story for me. I think the cover looks like some Southern-sister fic rather than a historical set in Oklahoma or a contemporary novel set in rural England (this novel has both).
I'm reminded of...: Lauren Groff, Amanda Prantera
First line: Gradually, Caroline returned to her senses.
Did... I stay up late two nights in a row because I couldn't stop myself?: YES. I had to know!
Did... I develop a bit of a crush on the male love interests in this book?: YES, both the historical and contemporary romantic figures -- such dreamboats!
Did... I flash back to my childhood years in South Dakota during the sections set in Oklahoma?: YES. The wind, the loneliness, the giant sky -- I can't imagine moving there on my own, when it was even more isolated and rural. Those sections were very evocative for me!
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Definitely borrow -- an engrossing read for a week (unless you find yourself staying up late one night because you can't stop!).
Why did I get this book?: Weirdly enough, the title, followed by the description.
Review: This book kept me up for two nights because I had to know to know how it ended. I had to know the answer to the two mysteries. Sort of literary thriller-ish, the story alternates between two women and two mysteries that tie together in the end.
My favorite character was Caroline, the early 20th-century American beauty who marries an Oklahoma rancher for love, and eventually ends up in England, reluctant matriarch to the Calcott family. I loved her and her mystery and I was desperate to learn the truth in her story; when I did, I gasped. It was perfect -- deliciously horrifying and wonderfully dramatic.
The other story follows Erica and Beth Calcott, Caroline's great-granddaughters, who inherit the family estate. It holds bad memories, both of their unfriendly grandmother and the mysterious disappearance of their cousin when they were children. Beth, who suffers from serious depression, is happy to retreat and hide while Erica is determined to shed light on that time.
There were moments when the story dragged for me, mostly during the contemporary sections, when it felt like Erica was spending a lot of time wandering and looking at things. I skimmed a bit, now and then (mostly during the wandering and looking), but for the most part, the story had me riveted and the writing style grabbed me. There's a little Gothic drama, some romance, and a lovely twisted mystery that totally surprised me.
This book would make a great book club pick -- it's dramatic and full of questionable life choices. I spent a night yammering to my wife about the twists and postulating on what I would have done (I'm not sure I would have done any better). Summer might be over but this is a great escapist read, appropriately moody for the fall, easily done in a week or so. Get it and have fun!
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I'm excited to offer a copy of The Legacy to one lucky reader! To enter, simply fill out this short form. Open to US/CA readers; closes 9/16. For another entry, be sure to comment on my forthcoming interview with Katherine Webb.