Clarissa is almost seventeen when the spell of her childhood is broken. It is 1914, the beginning of a blissful, golden summer – and the end of an era. Deyning Park is in its heyday, the large country house filled with the laughter and excitement of privileged youth preparing for a weekend party. When Clarissa meets Tom Cuthbert, home from university and staying with his mother, the housekeeper, she is dazzled. Tom is handsome and enigmatic; he is also an outsider. Ambitious, clever, his sights set on a career in law, Tom is an acute observer, and a man who knows what he wants. For now, that is Clarissa.
As Tom and Clarissa’s friendship deepens, the wider landscape of political life around them is changing, and another story unfolds: they are not the only people in love. Soon the world – and all that they know – is rocked by a war that changes their lives for ever.
Thank you to Judith for kindly sending me a copy of her historical romance novel. For a debut, it’s quite a lot to take in; from themes of love, family, heartbreak, decisions, war to trust and lies. Judith had it all and she did a wonderful job.
The relationship between Clarissa and Tom is very simple – it’s a teenage crush which has developed over the years but as they both grow and meet other people, will they stop fighting their love for one another and make a real go of it? Throughout the narrative, I was flicking back and forth – will they, won’t they, will they, won’t they? By the end, I was grateful for the answer.
It’s an extremely well detailed novel and I felt as if I’d stepped right into Downton Abbey. My favourite line of all was towards the end: I’m here… I’m here now.