Love of the Summerfields by Nancy Moser takes place in England in the 1880s and touches on lives in the manor house, both family and servants, and in the village as well. Some of the characters and their situations are:
Adelaide Weston, the dowager countess of the manor. A strong-willed, take-charge woman, her life turns upside down when an old love comes back into her life.
Frederick and Ruth Weston are the current earl and countess. Frederick is a decent man, but the manor is coming into hard times with more outgo than income. Ruth has become a recluse, both because of feeling intimidated by her mother-in-law and guilt over some of her actions in the past.
Clarissa Weston is their spoiled daughter who has not made a “match” yet, so her father and grandmother make one for her, partly to relieve the financial affairs of the manor.
Jack and Fidelia Hayward are shopkeepers. Jack is a fine, decent, patient man, but Fidelia is a bitter, controlling, unkind gossip. Lila is their daughter, a sweet girl in love with a man out of her reach. To make matters worse, she is pressed into acting as the go-between with this man and his fiancee. The Hayward’s son, Morgan, is in love with Ruth’s maid, Molly, but they have to keep it quiet because a lady’s maid is not supposed to have suitors. When Jack’s father dies, the family takes in his mother.
When a secret threatens to upend the lives of several in both village and manor, good for some but seemingly bad for others, the first instinct of those who uncover it is to keep it concealed. Will they let truth prevail even though it will cost them, or will hiding it bring greater repercussions?
This book is marketed as “If you like Downton Abbey, you’ll enjoy” this book. I don’t know if that’s the best way to present it. It is from the same era with the same strict class rules, and it even has a feisty dowager countess. But all the other characters and storylines are vastly different. So those who don’t want it to be too much like DA might avoid it, and those who want it to be just like DA will be disappointed. But if you like stories like from this time and place and type of people (which is what I think the slogan is actually going for), then you’d probably like this book. From the author’s notes after the book, the story was inspired by her own reading interests and her family history, not DA.
This book is the first in a series of three, and although I enjoyed it, I wasn’t planning on reading the sequels – until I got to the end and then read an except from the next book. Now I want to find out what happens!