Have high school students who swoon over Downton Abbey? Here is the perfect book for them!
Rasheed, Leila. Cinders and Sapphires.
22 January 2013, Disney-Hyperion
ARC from Netgalley.com
Somerton is buzzing with activity. The Averly family is back from a post in India, and Lord Averly is getting married to Fiona Templeton. This means that his children, Ada and Georgina, have to learn to get along with the beautiful, cruel and ambitious Charlotte, the rake Sebastian, and the boisterous Matthew. Ada wants nothing more than to go to Oxford to study, especially since the attractive Ravi, a protege of her father's friend, also goes there. She is pressed, however, to make a good marriage. Add to the mix Rose, Ada and Georgina's ladies' maid, who has risen from the ranks due to her mother's influence. But why is Mrs. Cliffe so favored? What past does she share with Lord Avery? Will Ada be able to help Rose with her music, keep Georgina from harm, keep away from Ravi, help Sebastian cover up his missteps, and, above all, keep Somerton from financial ruin? And can she do it all in the latest fashions?
Strengths: I really, really enjoyed this. Tons going on, but I was able to remember most of the character's names even from an e book! Very atmospheric, full of the "We're adhering to the social protocol even though it's breaking our hearts" sort of book that makes for a fun read.
Weaknesses: A bit cliched. We have Sebastian being black mailed for an Oscar Wildesque type fling, the suffragist sister, the overbearing stepmother, the all important debut, the grand estate on the verge of financial ruin. Still, to most high schoolers, this will be new. Nothing really objectionable, but the emphasis on Sebastian's troubles would confuse middle school students, I think. Half tempted to buy it, still, because it was such fun, but really would be of limited interest to younger students.