Monday, April 30, 2012

The Legacy by Katherine Webb

In The Legacy, Erica and her sister Beth have returned to Storton Manor after the death of their grandmother. It's their job to clean out the house and put things in order. As they sift through the family heirlooms and their grandmother's belongings, the sisters are haunted by childhood memories. The one memory that is especially troubling involves the disappearance of their cousin, Henry. In trying to find out what happened to him, Erica uncovers some family secrets that past generations have tried hard to keep buried. In this novel filled with secrets, memories, love, and betrayal, the sisters have to sort out what really happened and deal with the heartbreaking legacy previous generations have left behind.

I adored this book. It starts off with an incredible prologue and drew me in immediately. I didn't want to put it down. Every time I picked up the book, I was instantaneously transported to that place and time in the story and got totally caught up with the characters once again. Overall, the story was sad, but didn't bring me to tears.

The story is complex, but wonderfully written and packed with details. Part of that complexity comes from the structure of the story. It jumps around in time quite a bit, from present to the early 1900s. I just love the way it's done. The story is also presented from different viewpoints: Erica and Beth as adults, Erica and Beth as children with Meredith (grandmother) and Caroline (great grandmother), Caroline with Corin. This makes the book a little hard to follow at times, but it's so worth the effort.

The book contained some wonderful characters. Besides the main ones, there were so many minor characters that I resorted to keeping a list of who everyone was. Of the two main ones, I preferred Erica. She was determined to find out the truth and not scared of what she might find. Perhaps her naivety made her more brave. Beth was so moody and evasive, it was hard to like her. As I got further into the book, I learned why that was, but it still didn't make her endearing. I really didn't like Dinny and couldn't fathom why Erica was attracted to him. My favourite character was definitely Caroline. I just loved reading about her life. She was so out of her element on the ranch that I couldn't help but feel sorry for her.

One thing I didn't like about the book was that the present day chapters are numbered, while past chapters are named. I've seen this before and I'm not terribly fond of it. In this case, though, it didn't bother me that much as it did other times.

New Words:
servile (page 8): too obedient
trug (page 65): shallow basket made of strips of wood
secateurs (page 65): pruning clippers
vertiginously (page 214): revolving or whirling
timorous (page 259): Showing or suffering from nervousness
aver (page 282): declare
conkers (page 326): seed of the horse chestnut

I loved this book so much it's definitely going to be on my "best of" list for 2012.

Highly recommended. When the publisher offered Webb's next book The Unseen up for review, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I can't wait to read it.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

The Legacy by Katherine Webb, HarperCollins, ©2011. ISBN 9780062077301(Trade paperback), 464p.

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