The good: It’s fun.
The not-so-good: Poor Winnie’s life comes crashing down rather quickly.
Why I chose it: Love escaping with a Danielle Steel novel! Thanks Pan Macmillan for the copy.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Setting: Michigan, USA and England
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
I’m beginning to think that Danielle Steel is a big fan of Downton Abbey. Characters in previous books have enjoyed the show, but Beauchamp Hall (pronounced ‘beecham’) is the ultimate story for fans who have wanted to be part of the process. It’s a feelgood story that is sweet and empowering.
Winona (Winnie) hasn’t had the life she expected. She wanted to be a writer and started college, only to return when her mother became sick. When her mother died years later, Winnie’s dream of finishing college and moving to a big city seemed too far to reach for. Now she’s in her small home town in a boring job and a relationship of convenience. A Secret Santa gift of Beauchamp Hall DVDs (a TV series set in the 1920s around a stately home) changes her life. Winnie is enthralled by the show and its message of aiming for the stars. It’s just as well that it does, as soon later she’s passed over for promotion at work and finds her boyfriend in bed with her best friend. Suddenly, even the mundane isn’t even an option. On a whim, Winnie decides to travel to England and the set of Beauchamp Hall. Her sister is surprised (why, I don’t know considering she really hasn’t done anything to help Winnie except whinge) but Winnie is determined. Winnie finds a menial job on set and soon proves her worth to higher jobs. Now she’s truly part of the show’s family but showbiz is a temporary business…
Ultimately, this story is about the power of the human spirit and the good in people. Winnie, unlike some of the other recent heroines in Danielle Steel’s books, isn’t in a place of privilege. Money is tight and she doesn’t have a spectacular skill set or career. She’s much closer to an ‘average’ person. Even though she’s treated poorly by those around her, she doesn’t let it affect her. (In fact, she’s more bemused that so much time has passed without anything happening). It’s like Winnie has been sleeping, and Beauchamp Hall awakens her spirit. The message here is to take a chance on yourself – but carefully. (Winnie considers her budget and income sources before she makes any big decisions!) Winnie is rewarded well for flying to England. She rediscovers her strengths, ideas and voices. There are a few stumbles along the way but that’s real life.
This is a cosy read, rather than being full of drama and twists. I found the slower pace didn’t distract me from the story but rather gave me licence to enjoy it more. A great read for any time you want to slow down a bit through a story.