22 August 2012

The Unknown Ajax (mini-reveiw)

When Lord Darracott's son and heir dies unexpectedly, the family is informed that the new heir is an estranged cousin.  From the wilds of Yorkshire.  His mother was a weaver's daughter (and his father was disowned for marrying her).  He's big and clumsy and he was in the army and he speaks with an awful Yorkshire dialect that no one can understand.

Well, Major Hugo Darracott is actually having them on.  He's been educated as a gentleman, can speak English as well as anyone in the landed gentry, and has decided to teach his priggish, snobbish extended family a lesson.  They're all ridiculous - and they all get their comeuppance.

Except, possibly, for Lady Anthea.  She has a different reason to give Hugh the cold shoulder from the get-go - the family has decided that she will be the one to keep the estate "in the family", so to speak, by marrying the interloper and Anthea has absolutely no intention of being forced to marry someone she doesn't like.  The longer Hugh remains as Darracott Place to "learn" about the estate, the more she finds that his bumbling rural personae is a sham.  When a dangerous smuggling situation arises on the estate Hugh is revealed as The Unknown Ajax the family, and Anthea, has been waiting for all along.

This novel will resonate with Downton Abbey fans - the unfortunate death of an heir, a new one from a different branch of the family, and a match-making scheme with the eldest daughter of the family very closely echo the set-up for the popular television series.  The antics of the valets - forever in competition with each other - provides many opportunities for laughter.  Great fun.

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