Bea treads carefully on the thick carpet, quite deliberately like a servant. Her elder sister, Clemmie, tells her that it is "not done" to worry about being heard but Bea enjoys this oh-so-silent rebellion against convention. She teases back, "This is the twentieth century, Clem, things are about to change." London, 1914. Two young women dream of breaking free from tradition and obligation; they know that suffragettes are on the march and that war looms, but at 35 Park Lane, Lady Masters, head of a dying industrial dynasty, insists that life is about service and duty. Below stairs, housemaid Grace Campbell is struggling. Her family in Carlisle believes she is a high earning secretary, but she has barely managed to get work in service - something she keeps even from her adored brother. Asked to send home more money than she earns, Grace is in trouble.
As third housemaid she waits on Miss Beatrice, the youngest daughter of the house, who, fatigued with the social season, is increasingly drawn into Mrs Pankhurst's captivating underground world of militant suffragettes. Soon Bea is playing a dangerous game that will throw her in the path of a man her mother wouldn't let through the front door. Then war comes and it is not just their secrets - now on a collision course - that will change their lives for good.
Brilliantly capturing a deeply fascinating period of British life in which the normal boundaries of behaviour were overturned and the social hierarchy could no longer be taken for granted, Park Lane is as gripping and intense as Frances Osborne's number one bestselling The Bolter.
©2012 Frances Osborne (P)2012 Hachette Digital
"Couldn't get into it"
Was disappointed with this book as I had previously enjoyed The Bolter by the same author. I found the narrater poor and thought her reading did not help.
I'm afraid I abandoned it.
I bought this book based on a newspaper article. I found the storyline boring, This was disapointing as there appeared to be so much scope for an interesting story.
"one of the most boring books I've come across."
Having plodded my way through half of this book I too have abandoned it.
I find the narrator's voice really irritating.
"slow starter but worth the wait"
It took me a while to get really get caught up in the stories of Bea and Grace - but I think the writing improves considerably as the book progresses and I felt genuinely sorry when it came to an end. This is indeed a fascinating insight into a changing world and the use of the somewhat weak willed Bea - who is so very much a product of the old ways - to reflect the suffrage movement is quite clever. Certainly Bea does not start out with any high ideals or militant tendencies but her gradual awareness of the real world and how her place in it might perhaps not have to be as pre-ordained does gradually captivate.
The two prongs of the suffrage movement shown through Mrs Pankhurst and Bea's own mother I also found very interesting. Well worth a listen.
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