1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion. Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate? And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother? In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room? The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.
Sissy: Well. Where to begin? I will first say that if one is a fan of history, family sagas, mystery, and romance, then The Forgotten Room would certainly be an excellent reading selection. But that description doesn’t begin to describe the complexity of this novel. We have three generations of Van Alen women connected by a room, a ruby necklace, a painting, and the Pratt family. We also have three authors who seamlessly weave the tale together between characters and time periods, and you truly cannot tell who wrote what. The depth and beauty of the writing would be amazing for just one author, let alone three.
Bubby: I didn’t even realize that there were three authors until I was three-quarters of the way through the book, and I too still have no idea who wrote what. Oh, and the cover! How beautiful! I will admit that while I was reading The Forgotten Room, I had to draw myself a little family tree to refer to so that my sieve of a brain could remember all the connections. And then when new little bits of information were revealed I’d just squeal with excitement. It takes until the penultimate chapter for everything to finally be revealed. Not all the stories work out the way I’d hoped they would but there is a lovely ending that’s happy enough to satisfy my little romantic heart.
Sissy: I totally agree. I had to go backwards and forward several times to check my facts too, as I couldn’t remember what was what and who was where, etc.
Bubby: Yes, even now we’re sitting here discussing who was with whom and what actually happened to make sure we get it all straight. It’s a fascinating story!
Sissy: The time periods are perfectly portrayed, down to the smallest detail. The best part of the book is that the story moves back and forth through each time period and revelations trickle down to you as you move between periods. It’s a fascinating plot device but it’s infuriating too, because you just can’t put the book down! The characters are fantastic as well, each one complex and oh so human. It’s impossible to choose a favorite, although I think I fell in love a little bit with the dashing Captain Cooper Ravenel.
Bubby: He’s totally swoon-worthy. I want this book to be made into a movie just so I can see this drama played out on the big screen. I’m thinking something like a younger Brad Pitt for our hottie of a captain. There’s a few hate-able characters here as well – notably, Olive Van Alen’s nemesis Prunella and Lucy’s grandma. Nasty, meddling, sharp-tongued shrews, the both of them!
Sissy: Sad that there are horrid people like that in the world! The movie definitely would be a gorgeous sweeping saga. I would also love to see this book brought to life on the silver screen. The Forgotten Room is a richly woven gem of a story, full of depth and passion. I thoroughly loved it!
Bubby: I have read books by Karen White before (they were great) but I don’t think I’ve sampled the works of Beatriz Williams or Lauren Willig. If their stand-alone novels are anything as good as The Forgotten Room, then I’ve been missing out! Time to do some reading in the name of literary research! I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Amazing.
Click HERE to buy The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig
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