Park Lane by Frances Osborne
Lovers of TV’s Downton Abbey will adore this book by Frances Osborne. Set in London in 1914, it is the story of two very different women – but how their lives become entwined whilst living at the same address of Number 35, Park Lane. Beatrice Masters is a rich young woman who has returned from New York after a failed relationship. Seeking meaning for her life, she secretly joins the suffragettes and she is steadily drawn into the violence these protests are attracting.
Grace Campbell moves to London from the country in hopes of becoming a secretary – but the only job she can find is as a servant for the Masters’ family. She can’t bring herself to tell her family that she is only a housemaid, so begins telling increasingly complex lies to them.
Social worlds begin crumbling with the start of the First World War and soon these two young women’s lives will be entwined more than they could have imagined. They both have secret lives, and both are emotionally involved, in very different ways, with the same man. This is a wonderful novel that perfectly captures the intense changes of this period of history, especially for young women. It captures the desperation of the very militant suffragettes, the horror and loss of a terrible war, and the subsequent changes in the social fabric of life. First rate characters and storyline – this is a novel to savour.