Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Ravenscar Dynasty by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Barbara Taylor Bradford authors books in which you love to become immersed. They are sagas of time, people and place. The Ravenscar Dynasty is set in Edwardian England at the turn of the century and relates the family history of Edward (Ned) Deravenel. The Deravenels are what we would call a conglomerate company. They have marble quarries, woolen factories and vineyards. As the novel opens we learn with the family that Ned's father and brother as well as a uncle and cousin are killed in a hotel fire while visiting Carrara Italy and the marble factories. The tragedy forces Edward to leave his place at Oxford and relocate to London to manage the company.

Aligning himself with cousin Neville, the two Yorkshire men begin their search into the real reasons behind the deaths. Edward and Neville are a formidable pair as they begin to unearth the facts and to take back full control of the company from the Lancashire faction under the leadership of Henry Grant and his conniving wife, Margot. The plot, as one might expect, has many twists and coincidences as it leads to the climax. The secondary characters and plots are interesting and help reveal the true character of the

Edward, as BTB tells us so often, is very tall, good-looking, and quite the ladies man. He is drawn to the older woman and has had many affairs in his short lifetime. He is very much in love with Lily who is expecting his child; marries Elizabeth Wyland, but continues to keep mistress, Jane Shaw. Each woman has a different effect on his life and lead him to make decisions with far-reaching consequences. The constant and stable woman for Edward, tho, is his mother, Cecily. She is the matriarch of the Deravenel family and can be counted upon for wise counsel.

The Ravenscar Dynasty is the first of a trilogy (Being Elizabeth and The Heir) and has a very interesting parallel. Bradford writes in an introductory author's note about the similarities in her novel with the historical figures of Edward IV, duke of York, and his cousin, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick who was later given the title "Kingmaker." Edward IV fought to regain the country from Henry VI, Duke of Lancaster in much the same way as Ned has gone to battle with Henry Grant. This is not the best book Bradford has written. It is often repetitious and sometimes slow-moving. But it is an entertaining read for a hot summer day.