On Sparrow Hill
Tyndale, Feb 2008, $12.99
England’s National Trust constantly makes job offers that would pay much more and provide greater prestige, but Rebecca Seabrooke prefers to remain manager of Hollinworth Hall. Part of it might be her lingering crush on the owner Quentin Hollinworth, but much is because she needs to prove to herself she can run the best historical site in the country without dependence on her father. Her efforts are paying off as the manor has received a prestigious nomination from the Featherby Education Award although she hopes that proves enough to keep his mother from having him shut the place.
An email arrives from West World Genealogy (WWG) in which they claim an American family wants to contact their English Hollinworth cousins as they possess an original 1852 diary belonging to Cosima Escott Hamilton, an ancestor of Quentin. Intrigued they visit the vault to find letters from that period written by Beryl “Berrie” Hamilton to Cosima. Meanwhile Dana Walker responds to Rebecca’s email via WWG; she claims she possesses Cosima’s journal brought to America by the Englishwoman’s youngest son Kip whom Dana says she is his descendent. As Rebecca and Quentin work on understanding his ancestors and hers who have serviced Hamiltons for twelve generations, they admit their love for one another, but his mother objects; besides Rebecca believes Lady Caroline is more suited for her employer.
Once again as Maureen Lang did with the deep family drama that focuses on Fragile X Syndrome and its impact on people (see THE OAK LEAVES), the author provides a powerful tale of two families during the Victorian and contemporary eras. In both periods the key characters seem genuine as comparisons of the aristocracy and their servicing class then and now between the times make for a fascinating drama. Whether it is Berrie opening up a school for the mentally retarded or Quentin’s mom grieving the coming extinction of the aristocracy due to McDonalds and the Internet, readers will appreciate the well written poignant ON SPARROW HILL.