Monday, February 17, 2014

Doubting Abbey by Samantha Tonge

3.5 Star

Swapping downstairs for upstairs… How hard can it be!?

Look up the phrase ordinary girl and you’ll see a picture of me, Gemma Goodwin – I only look half-decent after applying the entire contents of my make-up bag, and my dating track-record includes a man who treated me to dinner…at a kebab shop. No joke! 

The only extraordinary thing about me is that I look EXACTLY like my BFF, Abbey Croxley. Oh, and that for reasons I can’t explain, I’ve agreed to swap identities and pretend be her to star in the TV show about her aristocratic family’s country estate, Million Dollar Mansion. 

So now it’s not just my tan I’m faking – it’s Kate Middleton style demure hemlines and lady-like manners too. And amongst the hundreds of fusty etiquette rules I’m trying to cram into my head, there are two I really must remember; 1) No-one can ever find out that I’m just Gemma, who’d be more at home in the servants quarters. And 2) There can be absolutely no flirting with Abbey’s dishy but buttoned-up cousin, Lord Edward.

Aaargh, this is going to be harder than I thought…

Kathryn - 3.5 Star

Doubting Abbey holds all the things we like in a lighthearted read with a little twist of the upstairs/downstairs very popular with programs like Downton Abbey at the moment.  I’m sure I’ve already mentioned that I haven’t actually seen the TV series yet- it’s on the shelf of things to watch, but I’ve visited enough country manors and castles in my life to be just as fascinated by the concept as those who’ve watched the program.  Samantha Tonge has taken an every-day girl and stuck her in this crumbling manor where she has to pretend to be her best friend and help win a reality TV program.  She takes all our guilty pleasures and wraps them in one good read.

Gemma was animated and likeable and her honest desire to help her friend was admirable. I can’t imagine many people would be willing to give up their identity to help strangers and certainly not in an environment completely unfamiliar to them.  Her antics are unpredictable and made the whole thing move along at a quick pace. Tonge also made certain to give the other characters (from staff to TV crew) developed plot lines and identities which I sometimes find lacking in other novels with such a large cast. I got a bit attached to a few of them which was nice!  The British slang took a little getting used to and for the first few pages the dialogue between Gemma and Abbey was utterly confusing, but I did soon get used to it and it definitely got easier once Gemma was settled into her new personality.

At times I have to admit that I wished Edward was less of a pain in the backside but all in all I really enjoyed Doubting Abbey and gobbled it up in a few nights reading.

Thank you to Samantha Tonge for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

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