Book Review: Rutherford Park

Rutherford Park
By: Elizabeth Cooke
Published By: Berkley Trade
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Page Count: 336
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Adult - Historical Fiction

I suppose I need to start this review by saying I have not watched Downton Abbey and know very little about England in the early 1900's. I decided to read this one when it was offered to me as a way to experience a new time period. My only experience with the early 1900's is learning about the Titanic and WWI. For whatever reason, beyond those two events, the early 1900's didn't interest me. I'm always on the lookout for well done historical fiction and I needed a little break from YA. It seemed like the perfect time to read Rutherford Park.

I loved that this novel does an excellent job of highlighting the differences between social classes during this time period. There are so many rules that decorum dictated must be followed. I had no idea that the only maids allowed to speak directly with the family were the ladies maids and the housekeeper. The chamber maids were supposed to be invisible at all times and never interact with their wealthy employers. I find this a bit odd since my life (thankfully) is not lived with such restraints. 

In addition to the differences between social classes, I am always fascinated to see how women experienced certain time periods. This was still the time of marriages arranged to aid the family fortune and separate bedrooms. Marriage in this time period seems to be more about a business arrangement and less about romance. Octavia's character certainly embodies this idea. She wants nothing more than to be free to do as she pleases, but as the wife of a Lord that is hardly possible. Her beautiful home and sprawling grounds become her prison.

Men are given far more freedom in this society. That is apparent based on the actions of William and Harry. Both men often follow their desires and rarely take stock of the repercussions of their actions.

If you're interested in learning about England in the early 1900's or enjoy stories laden with family secrets, this is a read for you. I'm sure it will appeal to fans of Downton Abbey. Rutherford Park is beautifully written and intriguing.

One Last Gripe: It took me a little bit of time to settle into the narration.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: Learning more about the social rules of the time period

First Sentence: Snow had fallen in the night, and now the great house, standing at the head of the valley, seemed like a five-hundred-year-old ship sailing in a white ocean.

Favorite Character: Octavia

Least Favorite Character: Harry

For the Cavendish family, Rutherford Park is much more than a place to call home. It is a way of life marked by rigid rules and lavish rewards, governed by unspoken desires…
Lady of the house Octavia Cavendish lives like a bird in a gilded cage. With her family’s fortune, her husband, William, has made significant additions to the estate, but he too feels bound—by the obligations of his title as well as his vows. Their son, Harry, is expected to follow in his footsteps, but the boy has dreams of his own, like pursuing the new adventure of aerial flight. Meanwhile, below stairs, a housemaid named Emily holds a secret that could undo the Cavendish name.
On Christmas Eve 1913, Octavia catches a glimpse of her husband in an intimate moment with his beautiful and scandalous distant cousin. She then spies the housemaid Emily out in the snow, walking toward the river, about to make her own secret known to the world. As the clouds of war gather on the horizon, an epic tale of longing and betrayal is about to unfold at Rutherford Park.


  1. Many thanks for your review, I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I've just finished writing the sequel this wishes,Elizabeth Cooke

    1. Thank you for checking out my review. I'll be looking for the sequel. :)


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