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Park Lane Paperback – June 12, 2012

3.0 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Osborne has created a thoughtful and evocative tale of class barriers eroding and opportunities expanding."
Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Though Bea and Edward are virtually unacquainted with Grace and Michael, the lives of all four already are more connected than they can imagine. And those connections will become more complex—and, in Osborne’s hands, intriguing—as war begins to impact the foundations of British society." —The Star-Ledger

"
Fans of Downton Abbey will have plenty of reading choices this summer to fill the void left by the popular television series, including Frances Osborne's second novel.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Acclaim for Frances Osborne's The Bolter:

“Fascinating. . . beautifully written. . . . Frances Osborne brings the decadence of Britain’s dying aristocracy vividly to life in this story of scandal and heartbreak.” —Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Young Stalin and Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar

“Osborne spins out an enjoyable pot-boiler, with lots of juicy details.” —New York Post

“[A] wildly entertaining biography.” —More

“Intoxicating.” —People

“For those who can’t ever get enough of the frolics and affairs of the British upper class in the ‘20s and ‘30s, this is the book for you. . . . Brilliant and utterly divine. . . . Full of charming details and wonderfully good stories about old scandals. . . . It’s a breath of fresh air from a vanished world.” —Michael Korda, The Daily Beast     
 
“Osborne has written an engaging book, drawing a ­revealing portrait of a remarkable woman and adding ­humanity to her 'scandalous' life. . . . And what a life it was." —The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Frances Osborne was born in London and studied philosophy and modern languages at Oxford University. She is the author of Lilla’s Feast and The Bolter. Her articles have appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, the Daily Mail, and Vogue. She lives in London with her husband, George Osborne, and their two children.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345803280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345803283
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,200,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book should have been right up my alley, but alas, it was not to be. The pace is very, very slow-going. It picks up a bit at the end, but I had to force myself to get to that point. As a person who works daily in the written word, I noticed some editing errors and just felt the novel could have done with a good trimming in places. I also didn't like the ending, but that is just my personal taste. Overall, I was disappointed. I felt misled by the comparisons I heard to "Downton Abbey" and the seemingly good praise from Julian Fellowes.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book follows two women who live in a mansion on Park Lane: Bea, the single, recently jilted, daughter who still lives at home, and Grace, working as a housemaid despite her secretarial training because her lower class, northern accent bars her from London office work. Both Grace and Bea have secrets; Grace has told her family that she's doing respectable office work rather than being a maid; Bea is joining her aunt as a follower of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, while Bea's mother has long supported the non-violent suffragists. Bea and Grace are at the opposite ends of the social hierarchy in the house- and personality. Bea is an excitement junkie; loving fast cars and motorcycles, the thrilling fear at the suffragette rallies, fast ambulance driving practically on the front, and meeting a man who is `not of her class'. Grace seeks safety and worries constantly about not living up to family expectations.

Divided into years, the story covers 1914 to 1923 (with a gap between 1918 and 1923). This is a tumultuous age in England; WW I, socialism and the women's suffrage movement all changed the lives of rich and poor alike. There is violence at the suffragette rallies, incredible loss of life in the trenches of WW I, post traumatic stress for both men and women (who drive ambulances in the war zones and nurse the torn up men), class differences come to mean a *little* less, and women gain more freedom well before they get the vote.

I enjoyed the book- I find the era fascinating (while a fan of Downton, I first was introduced to the era when PBS ran `The Forsyte Saga' way back around 1970) and Osborne knows the time intimately- she had to, to write the brilliant biography `The Bolter'- and she has a great power of description. But I feel the book could have been better.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I can't believe how bad this was. Weird, stream-of-consciousness writing, not one but TWO despicable protagonists, not one or even two but THREE unconvincing "romances", and an ending that made me spit with rage. There is no point in reading a book which makes you feel soiled after finishing it, and even less in reading one which ends in utter misery for all concerned. Ghastly.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This opens quite readably and with characters that quite interested me. By the way, these characters, especially the young servant and the spoiled rich daughter, were human with human virtues and human shortcomings. They weren't vile and they weren't role models. They were human with mixed qualities, much as you and much as me.

I kept interested through about half of the book as various situations involving the two develop. But shortly after the halfway point, the point where many books become more intensely interesting, it seems to me that this one feel apart, and rapidly. I had to sort of plough through the war years and the aftermath. These were points of the novel that, in my mind, could have been the epitome, but such wasn't the case.

So I don't urge you to read this nor do I urge you to avoid it. If you enjoy tories of the upper class and their servants during the years from 1814-1818, then do take a look at this and decide for yourself.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Frances Osborne has written an engaging and engrossing novel in the fine English tradition that has come down from Jane Austen. Bea and Grace are fully realized characters, as are their erstwhile brothers, Edward and Michael. Osborne creates an upstairs/downstairs world at once more believable than Downton Abbey but just as entertaining.

Seeing some of the negative reviews on this page was puzzling at first, but reading through them I have the feeling that these readers were expecting more of a light, 'romance' read, or a frothy sex romp, or something. But this is a fully realized novel with three-dimensional characters living out their story at a crucial period in world history.

In short---Buy it, read it, you won't be disappointed. You'll be looking forward to many more fine novels from Osborne in the coming years!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like Frances Osborne's latest book. The time around WW1 is a fascinating time in England, and everywhere else, with so many changes in the world and the way that women and families view themselves, the story should have been really special, but I didn't care about any of the characters. I was very disappointed after reading her first 2 non-fiction books Lilla's Feast and The Bolter, which were really fascinating. I would advise Osborne to stick to non-fiction , that seems to be her real forte , and additionally she has such unusual , and riveting members of her extended family / scandals and some very interesting people were part of her family tree, which is much more interesting than any novels she could come up with.
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