THE LEGACY by Katherine Webb [Review]

the legacy us book cover

I’m a sucker for drama, especially involving a multi-generational family of women. THE LEGACY has everything you need for an enticing story: generational conflict, a historical time period setting, and the romance of a European countryside complete with a manor, lords, and ladies. It also doesn’t hurt that Webb writes so adroitly, it’s as if it’s the most natural thing in the world.

Decades after the disappearance of their cousin, Henry, sisters Erica and Beth Calcott return to Storton Manor after their grandmother dies. While there, Erica discovers letters belonging to her great-grandmother Caroline noting that her past may not have always been what it seemed to be. While she works to unravel the mystery behind Caroline and a mysterious child, she copes with memories from her childhood, and finally comes to terms with what really happened to Henry.

The story is told in alternate viewpoints. It starts with Erica, the younger Calcott sister, who looks at the return to Storton Manor as a sort of blessing in disguise for both herself and Beth, who suffers from depression. She relishes the opportunity to revisit her own past as well as Caroline’s, and with vigor tries to make sense of her great-grandmother’s secretive past. The story alternates with Caroline’s story of a farmer’s wife in America at the turn of the century; a life full of love, hardship, and tragedy, before she makes her way to England and gives birth to Erica’s grandmother.

The first few pages are slow, and it takes a while before The Legacy finds its groove; which is sad, since the opening prologue sets the tone for the entire novel.

I also have a problem with the connection between Erica and Dinny, a childhood friend who was there when Henry disappeared and who also returns to the grounds of the Manor where he lives. The romance–whether hot and lusty or slow and sweet–isn’t believable. Webb makes Erica out to be merely a schoolgirl with a minor infatuation, and she gives no indication that Dinny should or will reciprocate. In fact, there were many times when I thought Erica obnoxious, and wished that Caroline’s story would pop back up soon.

We’re also told that Beth has a history of depression that most likely has something to do with Henry’s disappearance. Webb alludes to and foreshadows her mental instability so many times it’s almost annoying, and when she finally delivers I almost didn’t care anymore. Webb does this a lot; conversations between Dinny and Beth, in Erica’s research to discover more about Caroline. Everywhere you turn there’s another instance of foreshadowing. Luckily, Webb has a way with words that its blatancy isn’t too apparent between the beautiful phrases and imagery of the countryside.

Despite all of this, I couldn’t put the book down. It’s the strong tie of the women that I found myself most absorbed with, and it will definitely be on my list to re-read.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars | Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks | Pages: 496 | Source: Publisher | Buy on Amazon

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