The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig
Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: January 19th 2016 by Berkley/NAL
Source: e-ARC from NetGalley
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?
I was very curious to see how this book was done with 3 authors. I think it has come across pretty clear that I am a big fan of Lauren Willig. I have also really enjoyed what I’ve read by Beatrice Williams, but Karen White was new to me. These ladies were great together! I am really curious to learn more about how the writing process worked. As we follow three women in the story, did each author write one? The writing flowed pretty seamlessly so I am impressed if that’s what they did. I think they’re already working on another book together and now i’m excited to learn about that project!
We jump between time periods to meet Olive, who has begun working as a maid for the Pratt family after her architect father was disgraced by the Pratt patriarch and killed himself. Next comes Lucy, who has fled her family’s German bakery after the death of her own parents to work as a legal secretary. Then we have Kate, working as one of a very few female doctors receiving injured American soldiers returning from the front in Europe.
I loved that the Pratt Mansion was just the first connection between generations. I could see this beautiful old house in my mind as it transitioned from the design on paper created by Olive’s father, to the cold family manor where she served as a maid, then the single women’s apartments that Lucy lived in and finally the World War II hospital that Kate worked at. The house and the attic room were almost characters in their own right. They held their secrets well and released them with perfect timing.
I admit at first I was a bit confused at the transitions at first and wondering how these ladies could connect to each other – but once I figured it out I was HOOKED. The loves were sweet and the heartaches were brutal. The clues that the authors left us to follow outside of the house were perfect I thought. I loved how they kept popping up with a new story in each generation.
I don’t think every book has to have a happy ending – and sometimes they’re better for it (see Hausfrau) but I was really afraid I’d be walking away disappointed in the end. Thankfully these ladies pulled through for me and I was happy with the ending. I can’t decide who my favorite was still! Perhaps I’ll have to reread and decide.
Thank you Berkley/NAL and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!