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Park Lane by Frances Osborne
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Park Lane (edition 2012)

by Frances Osborne, Susan Duerden (Narrator)

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936129,846 (2.83)6
Member:FutureMrsJoshGroban
Title:Park Lane
Authors:Frances Osborne
Other authors:Susan Duerden (Narrator)
Info:Tantor Media (2012), Edition: Unabridged,Unabridged CD, Audio CD
Collections:2012 (inactive), Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:**1/2
Tags:1910s, historical fiction, servants, maids, upstairs downstairs, London, England, suffragettes, WWI

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Park Lane by Frances Osborne

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Upstairs, downstairs. A wealthy young woman and one of her maids deal with disappointment and changing expectations on the cusp of World War I. Grace Campbell has given up her hopes of an office job and is working as a maid for the Masters family. Bea Masters is still unmarried at twenty-five and increasingly disenchanted with her life. Against her mother's wishes she wanders into the world of radical suffrage. Both women live in a world of secrets. Grace cannot tell her family that she has been reduced to domestic service. Bea cannot reveal her new political affiliations or her relationship with a wholly unsuitable man.

This is a book that is meant to turn on the drama of manners and class restrictions, but it did not end up being especially lively. I wasn't particularly interested in either of the main characters, though Grace was slightly more interesting than Bea. The ending was particularly unsatisfactory. The historicity isn't bad, but I had a hard time getting invested in the story. ( )
  lahochstetler | Mar 27, 2013 |
We start out with two very different women in 1914, the privileged Beatrice and the housemaid Grace who both reside at 35 park Lane.
As do most wealthy women of that era who are not occupied with a family of their own they tend to get bored as does Bea & to her credit she does want to make a difference so she takes up the cause of the suffragettes with a little enticing by her wild and mysterious aunt Celeste (whom I really enjoyed & would have loved to read more about!) she becomes very involved much to her family’s chagrin.
Both women move through time each of then taking on the concerns of the era, both falling in love and not realizing just how close they come in their very separate lives.
It seemed Bea’s relationship with the “impoverished lawyer’ was uncomfortable for her as well as me and I could not quite figure out why she seemed so drawn to him or him to her?
I enjoyed the first half of the book but, as I got to the second half ...I became kind of lost, it was confusing, very slow going and seemed to bounce around in time. I think had the author focused on either the suffragettes or the war as opposed to both it might have been more interesting. The ending made me crazy as well, I mean… what the heck Grace? And come on Michael…speak up man! All in all it was an interesting if not slightly irritating read!
3 stars is generous... ( )
  annie.michelle | Mar 4, 2013 |
I've been fascinated with World War I and the years following it. This fascination goes beyond my fondness for Downton Abbey, Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series and the Charles Todd series of Detective Inspector Ian Rutledge, Bess Crawford mysteries. So when given the opportunity to read another well regarded book set in the period, I grabbed at the chance.

Park Lane is largely told from two perspectives: that of Bea Masters from "upstairs" whose family is known for its railroad money and Grace, a young girl working as a second housemaid in the Masters household.

We are first introduced to Grace and learn that she's entered service without informing her family. Her own mother's family owned textile mills but the family fortune has long since dissipated and while Grace has trained to serve as a secretary, she has had no luck securing a position. It was after weeks of unemployment that she resorted to applying as a housemaid. Her fellow servants regard her with some suspicion as they can tell she's no experience in service. Grace keeps up a good front, hiding her position from her family, sending money home to help support her parents and younger siblings, and in her time off trying to improve her typing and secretarial skills. As Grace settles into life at Park Lane, she finds herself slowly growing accustomed to the life and fighting a romantic entanglement until the War breaks.

When we meet Bea Masters, she is recovering from a bad love affair and is looking for purpose. She falls in with the more extreme Suffragettes and begins clandestinely assisting them in their more daring exploits. Encounters with the police, violence, escapes, and a chance meeting with a young man leads Bea to an unexpected path. The War breaks her ties with the Suffragettes and she volunteers to drive ambulances in France.

While I sympathized with Grace, I quickly grew impatient with and frustrated with Bea. This detracted from my enjoyment of Park Lane. However, the book seems to reflect the period quite well and I'd recommend it to others who are fond of historical fiction.

ISBN-10: 0345803280 - Paperback $15.95
Publisher: Vintage (June 12, 2012), 336 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program and the publisher. ( )
  gaby317 | Feb 19, 2013 |
Park Lane, by Frances Osborne, was a very pleasant surprise! I had read and enjoyed Osborne’s biography The Bolter, but for some reason I didn’t expect much beyond the predictable Upstairs Downstairs storyline for her first work of fiction. The story, which focuses on a maid in a once-grand Park Lane home and the young lady of the house that she serves, quickly veers from the expected path and delves into the world of women’s suffrage. When World War I breaks, the characters’ lives are upended and their missions take on new meaning – I actually learned quite a bit about the role of British women during the war and women’s fight for the vote in England. All in and a very good read! ( )
1 vote mefs | Jan 3, 2013 |
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To my sister, Kate
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Grace can just see the bedroom door handle ahead of her.
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Book description
When eighteen-year-old Grace Campbell arrives in London in 1914, she’s unable to fulfill her family’s ambitions and find a position as an office secretary. Lying to her parents and her brother, Michael, she takes a job as a housemaid at Number 35, Park Lane, where she is quickly caught up in lives of its inhabitants—in particular, those of its privileged son, Edward, and daughter, Beatrice, who is recovering from a failed relationship that would have taken her away from an increasingly stifling life. Desperate to find a new purpose, Bea joins a group of radical suffragettes and strikes up an intriguing romance with an impassioned young lawyer. Unbeknownst to each of the young women, the choices they make amid the rapidly changing world of WWI will connect their chances at future happiness in dramatic and inevitable ways.
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"When eighteen-year-old Grace Campbell arrives in London in 1914, she's unable to fulfill her family's ambitions and find a position as an office secretary. Lying to her parents and her brother, Michael, she takes a job as a housemaid at Number 35, Park Lane, where she is quickly caught up in lives of its inhabitants-- in particular, those of its privileged son, Edward, and daughter, Beatrice, who is recovering from a failed relationship that would have taken her away from an increasingly stifling life. Desperate to find a new purpose, Bea joins a group of radical suffragettes and strikes up an intriguing romance with an impassioned young lawyer. Unbeknownst to each of the young women, the choices they make amid the rapidly changing world of WWI will connect their chances at future happiness in dramatic and inevitable ways" -- p. [4] of cover.… (more)

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