Friday, March 23, 2012

Group Review: The Legacy

 Summary: When they were children, Erica Calcott and her sister, Beth, spent their summer holidays at Storton Manor. Now, following the death of their grandmother, they have returned to the grand, imposing house in Wiltshire, England. Unable to stem the tide of childhood memories that arise as she sorts through her grandmother’s belongings, Erica thinks back to the summer her cousin Henry vanished mysteriously from the estate, an event that tore their family to pieces. It is time, she believes, to lay the past to rest, bring her sister some peace, and finally solve the mystery of her cousin’s disappearance. But sifting through remnants of a bygone time is bringing a secret family history to light—one that stretches back over a century, to a beautiful society heiress in Oklahoma, a haunting, savage land across the ocean. And as past and present converge, Erica and Beth must come to terms with two shocking acts of betrayal . . . and the heartbreaking legacy they left behind. ~ amazon.com

Alice's Review:  The first thing that struck me about The Legacy is how vividly the author describes Storton Manor.  I could see its looming grey façade, the dew pond, the trees and clearing where the Dinsdales lived.  I wanted to go there.  I wanted to search each and every room, much like Erica did, looking for secrets. 


As I continued to read, my love for the house grew, as did my curiosity around the two stories.  There were times where I enjoyed one story over the other and was so tempted to skip ahead to continue reading.  This holds especially true with the romance between Caroline and Corin Massey.  I was completely entranced with how they met, the sacrifice she made to go to Oklahoma.  I understood her trepidation, her anticipation of seeing him.  I was so wrapped in the hope of their success that I forgot about Storton Manor and the mystery surrounding Henry’s disappearance.

The Legacy made me sad, so very sad.  I hated the way Caroline treated Meredith, how the black hole that should have held a heart had no love at all for a precious child.  I clearly understood why and how Meredith became the insensitive woman she was.  Then again, I understood what hardened Caroline to become the kind of woman with no love in her heart.  I wish she had done things differently, found peace in what happened to her and moved on with her life, not run from it.  I do disagree with her about something:  you can always go back.  You can right your wrongs the best you can and then let them go.  It is harboring them in the dark shadows of your being that causes bitterness.  She could have found happiness if only she had learned to accept and let go.

Once I was done reading, I yelled to myself, “That’s not good enough!” I want more.  I want a clear resolution, which it surprising to me because I usually enjoy a fade out ending.  I think my disdain came from the pathetic way Erica pinned for Dinny.  I fear that she is doomed to repeat the mistakes of her great-grandmother Caroline.  Never letting go of the past, forever longing something that once was.  It also came from knowing the there was no justice served for those left behind in Oklahoma.  It breaks my heart, it really does.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel very much.  I’m glad this is one that Julie and I read together for our challenge.  We’ll have a lot to talk about. 

On a side note, I’m not sure what it was about this novel, but it felt good in my hands.  Maybe it was the picture of the girls on the cover that reminded me of my sister and I.  Maybe it was how strong but pliable the pages were.  Whatever it was, I wish all books were made like this.

Final Take: 4/5

Julie's Review: If you can make it through the first half of The Legacy then keep going. The first part of the novel was painfully slow. I just wanted Ms. Webb to get the point, to get the story instead of setting everything up. My favorite parts of the book was Caroline's story. I agree with Alice about the romance between Corin and Caroline. I also felt extremely sad for her because she never felt that she belonged at the ranch, in New York and eventually in England. Ms. Webb made Caroline a likable character from the beginning so while you might not like who she became by the end of the novel you at least understood why she turned into a mean, spiteful old lady.

This novel is a hard one for me to review for some reason. There were things I loved about it and then things that just didn't sit well for me. I think what struck me as odd was the relationship between Erica and Dinny. It just didn't ring true to me. Sure, she carried a long time torch for him but I never got the feeling that it was the same with him for her. I always figured that he was in love with Beth and part of me wonders if he was substituing Erica for her.

I didn't see the twists that came in this novel. I feel that I should have, but I didn't. I wonder if it was because I was so caught up in Caroline's story that I didn't really examine the present story of Erica, Beth, Dinny & Henry.

I liked Erica's tenacity in figuring out what happened to her cousin Henry at the Manor back when they were kids. She wanted to do it to save her sister and to also release herself from those thoughts that she knew something happened but couldn't quite recall them. For a while I thought that Erica was the one who knew what happened but as I read along it was revealed that it was Beth who knew what happened and was awashed with guilt. Guilt for what though? Was she even guilty of anything?

Memories are a tricky thing and Ms. Webb explores this throughout the novel. Caroline gets lost in hers, Erica can't remember hers and Beth can't escape hers.

I definitely look forward to Ms. Webb's 2nd novel, The Unseen, due out this summer.

On a side note, for the entire novel I visioned the house from the movie Forrest Gump as the manor but with an English flair instead of southern.

Final Take: 4/5

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