Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review: The Forgotten Room

Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig
The Forgotten Room
By Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig
NAL, January 2016

About the Book

1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate? And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother? In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

My Review

Authors Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig collaborate on this multi-generational collection of love stories. We meet three women: Olive (1893), Lucy (1920s), and Kate (1944) in their own time periods. Olive is a housemaid with an ulterior motive, serving the wealthy family she believes wronged her beloved architect father, leading to his suicide. Lucy is a secretary in a prestigious law firm, hoping to learn more about the now disgraced Pratt family and a mansion that her mother always pointed out to her. Kate is a doctor caring for WWII soldiers in a reclaimed historic building.

All are tied to the former Pratt mansion in some way and all are tied to each other, although we don’t know how until the story fully unfolds. The one physical link is a valuable ruby necklace. Olive falls in love with the handsome artist son of her employer. Lucy is torn between her wealthy employer and a Charleston art gallery owner who visits the firm. Kate saves from amputation the leg of a handsome captain who owns a miniature portrait of a woman who strangely resembles Kate. Throughout the book you search for clues as to how the women, and the men they love, are connected.

This is a great genealogical mystery, a treat for those interested in relationships of blood and love. These ladies all have their own family mysteries to uncover, stories their family members tried to keep from them, and in learning more about their histories, they learn more about themselves. Some flee from the truth, allowing their heads to overrule their hearts, but it’s that legacy that ultimately affects Kate in a profound way. Beautifully written, intricately woven, and heartwarming, this is one you’ll race through, searching for clues until it all snaps into place.

Rebecca Henderson Palmer

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