Erica and Beth Calcott have returned to Storton Manor, a house they’ve inherited from their grandmother Meredith, a woman who was cold and unloving. Beth is severely depressed and recovering from a suicide attempt. Erica believes Beth’s depression began when their cousin Henry disappeared when they were children, and is determined to recover the repressed memories from that event. Shortly after arriving at the manor, Erica comes across Dinny, a traveler whose family camps on the edge of the Calcott property. Erica, Beth and Dinny were friends as children, in defiance of Meredith’s attempts to keep them apart.
The Legacy intertwines Erica’s first person account in the present day with the story of her great-grandmother Caroline, a New York socialite who moved to the Oklahoma Territory to be with her rancher husband at the turn of the 20th century. Caroline has trouble adjusting to life in the wide open – she’s afraid of the Indians who live and work on the ranch, suffers with the extreme hot and cold temperatures, and to top it all off, is unable to conceive the child she so desperately desires.
While the two accounts appear to be separate stories set 100 years apart, as Erica determines what happened to Henry, she also comes across some letters written from Meredith to Caroline, and she pieces together her great-grandmother’s past and learns the reason her family has hated Dinny’s family.
I enjoyed The Legacy for a few reasons. I like character-driven novels where the story is told by alternating characters. Some readers feel that this pulls them out of the story, but I especially enjoy this device when the narratives take place in different places and times, as in this novel. I also like books that have a gripping plot that pulls you in and keeps you guessing. What happened to Henry and how Caroline went from a ranch in mid-western US to a manor in a London suburb is slowly unfurled in a painfully wonderful manner.
The Legacy is an entertaining read that would be of interest to anyone who enjoys family secrets and unusual settings.
Nancy sometimes enjoys her boring, if busy, life. She writes about her 2 boys, books and life in Colorado at Life With My Boys and Books.