A Weekend at Blenheim
by J.P. Morrissey
Category: Fiction / Historical
320 pages; ISBN: 0312282680
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
In 1905 American expatriate John Vanbrugh is a draftsman working in the London firm of Burlington and Kent. He is at the bottom of his company’s food chain until wealthy American Duchess Consuelo Vanderbilt, wife of Charles Spencer-Churchill, wants John to renovate her quarters at the Duke’s family estate Blenheim. She chooses John because he is a fellow Yank but mostly due to his sharing the same full name as the architect who built Blenheim two centuries ago. John’s pregnant English wife Margaret encourages him to accept, which he does.
John and Margaret stay at Blenheim and are ecstatic until they meet the other guests and the husband of their hostess. John and Margaret feel overwhelmed by the duplicities, affairs, and damaging secrets that threaten everyone within the sphere of the duchess. As John uncovers hidden messages and falls under the spell of his hostess, a servant mysteriously dies and the drawings of artist John Singer Sargent vanish. John wonders if he and Margaret are safe amidst these backstabbing devious aristocrats.
Though somewhat of a mystery, A WEEKEND AT BLENHEIM is more of a historical novel that looks deeply at the architect of the early eighteenth and twentieth centuries as well as the last elitist days of the English aristocracy. The first half of the story line enables the audience to deeply observe the dysfunctional cast interact. However, the price for this depth is that the action is deferred until the latter half of the tale. Adding strength to the plot is a different perspective on Winston Churchill, cousin to the host. Fans of character driven historical novels will enjoy J.P. Morrissey’s latest design.
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