Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ashton Park ~ a book review

When I read "for fans of Downton Abbey" on the back of this book, there was no question about me reading this book. I liked what I was reading from the page one. However, I did became a little less enthralled halfway into the book. As the description on the back of the book compares Ashton Park to Downton Abbey AND claims that it focuses on the lives of those both upstairs and downstairs, I was pretty disappointed when I figured out that this book primarily focuses on the lives of the family, and hardly mentions the servants ('downstairs' characters are some of my favourites in Downton Abbey). Okay, yes, some portions of the servant's lives are mentioned, but only when that is directly connected to the family in some way.

In addition, the book skips through long periods of time - sometimes there is half a year's time in between one chapter and the next. I understand that Downton Abbey does the same in between seasons, but it is much more inconspicuous. This style of writing makes Mr. Pura's novel feel rushed (especially further into the book), and it made me feel as if the children's relationship subplots were the only important things happening in the Danforth family. About that...I got super annoyed that the reader almost only sees the Danforth's children's relationships, and not much else of their lives. As soon as the female (or male) character meets another character of the opposite sex, I knew right away that he or she would be her or his future husband or wife and that they would fall in love very soon. I also got a little uncomfortable with some of the romantic scenes. They weren't that bad, but they weren't as Christian as I was hoping them to be. But maybe that's just me being too picky again. I'm going to put some more thoughts on the relationships of the story at the bottom of this post since it includes spoilers.

I've also noticed a review on Goodreads which was nitpicking at some problems which I didn't even notice. This person claimed that Ashton Park is not historically and culturally accurate. One of her examples was the spelling of 'ma'am' as 'ma'arm'; she believed that one should stick to the actual spelling of the word, not the sound. However, I believe that spelling a word how it sounds adds more to the reality of a historical fiction, and makes the story that much more interesting. There are so many classic books that you can read that have this in them. About his other comments, I'm not an expert so I don't know, but here's her review if you want to read it.

Alyianna's Rating: 8 out 10

Some Thoughts on the Relationships of the Story (SPOILERS)
Some of the relationships just annoyed me, like Ben and Victoria's relationship, which seemed like the stereotypical servant-and-rich-person-fall-in-love-and-get-married type of thing. I found Sir William's sister Holly to be a little inappropriate and pushy/controlling in relationship-type things. I found the most interesting relationships to be Libby and Michael's because they hated each other at the beginning, and also Catherine and Albert's because they had a difficult marriage, but they worked together and fixed it.

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