Thursday, January 16, 2014

Diamonds and Deceit by Leila Rasheed

I have not read the first in the series, I have not watched Downtown Abbey (I can't even keep up with Japanese dramas) so I can say with absolute certainty that I started reading this book with no expectations. And I loved it.

Diamonds and Deceit follows Rose, an ex-lady's maid turned real lady when her aristocratic father (Lord Averly) decides to acknowledge her and take her in as a member of her family. Unfortunately, her stepmother and step-sister don't like her, she feels out of place in the snobbish society, and her best friend/sister Ada is too distracted trying to convince herself she loves her fiance. When she meets Alexander Ross, a young duke whom her other step-sister is after, she falls in love.

And that would be the main cast. There are other supporting characters, but they didn't hold my attention as much as the plights of Rose and Ada. I think it's because their plights had to do with class conflict, which naturally made it more exciting (or perhaps it's just me). Rose is hindered by the fact that she's an illegitimate daughter that used to be a maid. Ada is in love with an Indian student. But these are also two sisters that love each other, so they do support each other in their own way.

I really liked this book because of this. By having Rose as the protagonist, the cynicism and critique of high society becomes natural.

But, there's a hint of the "white man's burden", especially towards the end. The attitude of the upper classes needing to take care of their servants (with the servants 'rewarding' this with loyalty) is a bit too colonial for me (but I am from a country with a colonial hangover so....).

All in all, excellent book and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read a novel about the upper class English.

Disclaimer: I got a free galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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