So by now you should have read my blog post spotlighting Tracy Chevalier, and why she's amazing. Obviously, this is going to be a positive review. So I'm jumping right into things.
This book is set during the end of the Victorian era, at the cusp of the new century, and opens up with the death of Queen Victoria. Kitty Coleman is a Victorian housewife who has nothing to fill her days, and obviously feels like her life lacks purpose. As Kitty, her husband, and their daughter Maude attend a memorial service at their local graveyard for the Queen, the Coleman's run into their graveyard next door neighbors, the Waterhouse's. Their daughter Lavinia is Maude's age, who through the story's development, becomes Maude's best friend. Though this book is told through the viewpoints of (roughly) 10 or so character's points of view, the main focus of the book is of the growing up of both girls. We see them caught up in the melodrama of being a girl on the throes of becoming a young woman in Victorian society, deal with loss and sorrow in a hypocritical age, reliving Suffragette marches, riding the waves of scandal, and understanding what it means to be a friend. The book is full of double standards, hypocrisy, melodrama, real drama and nostalgia, and should be read immediately. The genius of writing the story from several character's viewpoints only shows how capable Chevalier is at mastering the art of storytelling.
Not only is the story original and beautiful, but the writing itself is passionate and full of intrigue and romance that can only be found in one of Chevalier's books. I definitely recommend this book and advise you to read it tonight, cuddled up in piles of blankets. Chevalier's books have always left me wanting more, and this one was nothing different; after you finish this book, I'm sure you'll want to go and pick up a couple more of her books. My advice: give into the urge!