Was Victoria abducted? did she climb out of the carriage and fall into the river? why did her mother leave the carriage unattended? no one can seem to find any answers…
At the time young Victoria goes missing, Charlotte, her older sister, is eight years old. The nurse Miss Dixon is abusive and just plain downright mean to her the two children (a well-known fact among the rest of the staff; but of course, no one wants to blow the whistle on Miss Dixon).
Miss East, the housekeeper, takes advantage of being put in charge while Charlotte’s mother is away and sacks Miss Dixon. (there. That takes care of that! But, hold on…. we have not seen the last of mean ol’ Miss Dixon!!!)
Charlotte grows up and learns many accomplishments. However her mother Edwina, is *not* impressed. Seemingly Edwina has no natural affection for her daughter as she also treats Charlotte shamefully. In one instance, for example, Charlotte’s favorite horse has to be put down due to her mother’s direct intervention during a fox hunt.
(Are you beginning to feel sorry for Charlotte yet? is there any hope for Charlotte to take a normal role within society?) Between the treatment from her old nurse and her own mother, it’s pretty obvious that Charlotte could very easily grow up confused, bitter and unable to cope with her repressed anger and emotion.
Thankfully there are some who continue to invest in Charlotte’s life to bring meaning and hope to her, as both her riding trainer and her art instructor seek to encourage her talents.
Charlotte meets her brother Harcourt’s friend, Lochlann, who is in love with and hoping to marry Niamh. And suddenly Charlotte decides she wants Lochlann for herself:
“…Charlotte imagined what it would be like to be married to Lochlann. It would be a heavenly state, in which she need never fear abandonment again. Her mother had handed her over to Nurse Dixon, her father was never at home when he was needed, Miss East had chosen Catherine and Sid over her….and she never saw Manus. If Lochlann were legally tied to her for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death did them part, all the hurt she had suffered in the past would be canceled out.”
Charlotte decides to trick Lochlann (who is in love with someone else) into marrying her (manipulation and self-interest seems to be one thing she learned from her mother):
“Edwina then bullied the local priest into officiating at a wedding ceremony three weeks hence, a speedy resolution by anyone’s reckoning. To ensure the contract would be legal and binding by Lochlann’s standards, she swallowed her prejudices and opted for a Catholic service. Let them try to get out of that one. Finally she booked two one-way tickets from Southampton on a cargo ship. By registering Lochlann as a doctor, she was not charged for the fares.”
(if at this point you are thinking this novel reads like a soap opera, you are probably right!)
The author could have made so much more out of Charlotte’s character. Unfortunately there is no redeeming qualities at all that I could find. (Charlotte’s repressed anger erupts in the end…)
I really wanted to like this book! I kept on reading, hoping to find that Charlotte’s relationships with others in her life are going to have a positive effect and that she will find meaning in her art and starting her own family.
In my novel reading I don’t necessarily *need* a happy ending or even a resolution that appears to tie up every loose end, but I *do* like to see some growth or character development through the challenges in the plot, so that I can identify with (or, conversely, be critical of), the choices made. I had a hard time engaging with any of the characters, to be honest! Miss East, the housekeeper, is one character that has some admirable qualities (but unfortunately she is so wishy-washy that I just couldn’t find any ‘depth’ to her in the story!)
The mystery of Victoria’s disappearance is not revealed until the ending, but in my estimation, it was quite disappointing. (There were other reviews that were quite favorable so it could be I read this at the wrong time!) One review says it this way:
“Victoria’s disappearance affects these women the rest of their lives as they go through being crippled, severely depressed, lying and stealing, and experiencing such loss. “Tyringham Park” is a novel of loss and how it impacts everyone in different ways.
“Tyringham Park” is being advertising as a “Downton Abbey” style book, but it is darker and much more emotionally complex. Characters do not get happy endings in this novel and often times experience true pain or lash out at others and do cruel or hurtful things
This novel can be a difficult read as it changes character point of view frequently throughout the novel and is very dark, depressing, and unhappy.”
(The reviewer quoted above called this novel, in spite of its dark themes, ‘rich and fascinating’. I suppose we all have different tastes!) I don’t like having to say it (because I love books and reading so much!), but, when they aren’t my cup of tea…well, this one, somehow, missed it with me.