I have read all of Lauren Willig’s book and many by both Beatriz Williams and Karen White. All of their books have been some of my most favorite reads. Then they started to team up and write collective books together and I devoured those books so incredibly fast! I love how well written each book is and not just independently but as a writing team. When I saw this book was coming out, I knew I had to read it. I love how in all of their collective books, there are characters that make appearances in other collective books. For example in this book we meet Prunella who has been in some of the other books by this writing team.
These three authors are some of the best in the historical fiction genre and I never feel disappointed in any of their independent books or their collective books. I debated about reading this one of listening to it on audiobook. I actually downloaded it in both formats but ended up reading it instead of listening to it. With the books written by the ‘Three W’s’ as I call them, I find that the audiobook is sometimes preferable as each chapter is based on a different character and written by different authors. So the audiobook usually gives readers more of an experience with the narration changes etc.
If you are looking for a powerhouse historical fiction book, anything by these three women will surely hit the mark whether it’s collective like this book or their own independent books. You simply cannot go wrong with these writers when it comes to historical fiction. While this book had some issues for me, overall it was enjoyable and I would absolutely read it again and anything by them! They are easily autobuy authors for me and I am looking forward to their next collaboration.
From the New York Times bestselling team of Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White–a novel of money and secrets set among the famous summer mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, spanning over a century from the Gilded Age to the present day.
2019: Andie Figuero has just landed her dream job as a producer of Mansion Makeover, a popular reality show about restoring America’s most lavish historic houses. Andie has high hopes for her latest project: the once glorious but gently crumbling Sprague Hall in Newport, Rhode Island, summer resort of America’s gilded class–famous for the lavish “summer cottages” of Vanderbilts and Belmonts. But Andie runs into trouble: the reclusive heiress who still lives in the mansion, Lucia “Lucky” Sprague, will only allow the show to go forward on two conditions: One, nobody speaks to her. Two, nobody touches the mansion’s ruined boathouse.
1899: Ellen Daniels has been hired to give singing lessons to Miss Maybelle Sprague, a naive young Colorado mining heiress whose stepbrother John has poured their new money into buying a place among Newport’s elite. John is determined to see Maybelle married off to a fortune-hunting Italian prince, and Ellen is supposed to polish up the girl for her launch into society. But the deceptively demure Ellen has her own checkered past, and she’s hiding in plain sight at Sprague Hall.
1958: Lucia “Lucky” Sprague has always felt like an outsider at Sprague Hall. When she and her grandmother–the American-born Princess di Conti–fled Mussolini’s Italy, it seemed natural to go back to the imposing Newport house Nana owned but hadn’t seen since her marriage in 1899. Over the years, Lucky’s lost her Italian accent and found a place for herself among the yachting set by marrying Stuyvesant Sprague, the alcoholic scion of her Sprague stepfamily. But one fateful night in the mansion’s old boathouse will uncover a devastating truth…and change everything she thought she knew about her past.
As the cameras roll on Mansion Makeover, the house begins to yield up the dark secrets the Spragues thought would stay hidden forever…. (summary from Goodreads)
If I had read this book without having read their other collaborations, I probably would have liked it more than I did. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it but it somehow felt inferior to their other collaborative books. I didn’t feel the connection to any of the characters that I have felt in some of their other books and I certainly didn’t feel the romance in the way that I had hoped, plus there were some lingering questions that I didn’t feel like were addressed in the book. For example, in Andie’s parts—Marc was clearly a fall down drunk who was battling his own issues. It was eluded to that he had problems but we never found out what those problems were really. If they weren’t relevant to the story why bring them up and then not address them? I also think Marc could have been written off all together and more time spent on developing Andie and Luke as a couple because when they ended up coming together I was like wait why is this happening? I felt zero chemistry between them which is unusual for the Three W’s.
I had no sympathy for Lucky. Sure her husband was an utter ass but I had a hard time feeling sorry for her when she was jumping into bed with him when he was so horrible to her. I kept thinking if you are so unhappy with him (which is EVIDENT) then why not just leave him all together? And speaking of things that felt out of place—-how did Dudley find out about the big secret and then just sit on it for all those years? I don’t think that was ever really discussed. I was so lost with parts of the larger narrative and unanswered questions like this. This one just felt really problematic for me. I didn’t feel a connection with any of the characters—-Ellen, Andie, and Lucky. This was the thing I was surprised with the most. Typically with their collaborative books I feel a connection with at least one of the main characters if not all of them but in this book I literally felt nothing for any of them which threw me for a loop.
I read this book in a couple of days sure, I mean I wanted to know how things turned out and I wasn’t willing to give up on a decent read but I came away feeling like this one was just ok. It wasn’t spectacular like many of their other books both independent and collective, but it was ok and worth a read. I didn’t feel like I wasted my time reading it or anything like that I just came away feeling like this wasn’t the best representation of their collective books. It was ok but not great. But one less than stellar book doesn’t mean I am off their collective books all together, overall they are all such strong writers and this one just felt off for me but not enough to be like ‘I am never reading anything by them again’. I am hopeful that the next collective book will be better than this one.
Book Info and Rating
Hardcover, 393 pages
Published May 17th 2022 by William Morrow & Company
ISBN 0063040743 (ISBN13: 9780063040748)
Review copy provided by personal collection, all opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: historical fiction