Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

One house, two worlds...
Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada.
For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name—but it would mean giving up her one true love . . . someone she could never persuade her father to accept.
Sumptuous and enticing, the first novel in the At Somerton series introduces two worlds, utterly different yet entangled, where ruthless ambition, forbidden attraction, and unspoken dreams are hidden behind dutiful smiles and glittering jewels. All those secrets are waiting . . . at Somerton.
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Number of Pages: 400
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Ellie, age 16

I think that the one way you could describe Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed is as “classy.” Seriously. That is the word that pops into my head when I’m reading it, and rightly so, as this book is all about the high-end people of the post-WWI era. The novel follows the many adventures of the residents of Somerton, a luxurious home in the countryside of England. There, almost everyone has a secret-and has good reason to cover those secrets up.
            This book is fantastic for many different reasons. Cinders and Sapphires is probably the most gossipy, scandalous book I have read in a long time. This description is not a put down: in fact, I loved that this book was not heavy. Rasheed didn’t try to make the plot or the characters unnecessarily depressing or pessimistic, opting instead to write the story that was true to its roots, otherwise known as a good old-fashioned gossip story. I loved that Rasheed employed three different main points of view (the privileged and very classy Lady Ada, the musically-talented maid Rose, and the complicated yet blunt Lord Sebastian), and also let the reader peek into the heads of other characters. This created a secretive atmosphere and makes the book all the more delicious.
            I was also very happy to see that there was a theme in the story that documented the struggles of minorities. This theme doesn’t come up in fluffier YA fiction very much and I am happy to report that these struggles are one of the main topics in the book. There are also themes of class level, right vs. wrong, sexuality, and familial issues discussed. Rasheed handles these topics in a respectful and delicate way, and I salute her for that. However, despite the many topics in this book covers, the book still retains an aura of pure fun.
            I had only one complaint about this book: it was a bit predictable. Some parts I never saw coming (spoiler: someone ends up dead before the end of the book!) but some parts I could see from a mile off. It just feels like Rasheed was a bit heavy-handed with the foreshadowing, letting a few of the ‘secrets’ slip out.
            Overall, I truly loved this book. I’m not sure if its just that I haven’t read a good gossip novel for a while or if it was simply the lovely writing and promise of secrets that drew me in, but this is a book that I would definitely recommend to others, particularly fans of books such as The Flappers series by Jillian Larkin or other such gossipy period pieces.  

This book hits shelves January of 2013!
Buy Hardcover

Happy reading!
Ellie, age 16

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