The New Countess by Fay Weldon is the third in the Love and Inheritance Series. I’m always a little cautious of picking up a book part way through a series, however it seemed to be a ‘stand alone’ story in its own right, and after some time away from this genre, I thought I’d jump back in. And it has to be said, I really enjoyed it!
The writing was witty and clever, as can be expected from Fay Weldon, creating a terrific sense of the feelings of each character and their surroundings. It was almost like being an awkward guest, watching events unravel before you that you weren’t supposed to witness. I liked the fact that it delved into the lives of the lower classes too, and portrayed their relationships with their employers and portrayed the changing times of the Edwardian era.
Isobel, the countess, is a matriarch of a woman, and represents the period extremely well, whilst her American daughter-in-law, Minnie, wears her heart on her sleeve. The combination creates huge tensions during everyday life, and with added pressures from her marriage and an impending royal visit, Minnie leaves the safety of her family and explores how others live, with some rather interesting and different characters who try to tempt her into some damaging situations to her reputation. Isobel is struggling to maintain a respectable image for her family, and is stubbornly intolerant to the modernising ways of the world. Will the Dilberne family be able to move passed such a challenging time in history? And will the unexpected death of one of the main characters change everything they have ever known?
With many unexpected and dramatic twists and turns, I kept finding myself looking at how many pages I had left to read and wondering if any reconciliation or closure would be found. I’m happy to say there is, however it will keep you guessing until the very very end!
Although this is a stand-alone book, I do believe reading the first two in the series would be beneficial. There were places that I found slow, that perhaps would have more meaning if I had read the others.