Yorkshire, 1904. On Netherwood Common, Russian émigré Anna Rabinovich shows her dear friend Eve Williams a house: a Victorian villa, solidly built from local stone. This is Ravenscliffe, and it's the house Anna wants them to live in. It's their house, she says. It was meant to be.
As Anna transforms Ravenscliffe, an attraction grows between her and union man Amos. But when Eve's long-lost brother Silas turns up in the closely-knit mining community of Netherwood, cracks begin to appear in even the strongest friendships.
Meanwhile, at Netherwood Hall, cherished traditions are being undermined by the whims of the feckless heir to the title, Tobias Hoyland, and his American bride Thea Stirling. Below stairs, the loyal servants strive to preserve the noble family's dignity and reputation. But both inside the great house and in the world beyond, values and loyalties are rapidly changing.
Although Ravenscliffe is described as a standalone sequel meaning that it could be read as a sequel or on its own, I'm glad that I did decide to buy a copy of Jane Sanderson's debut novel Netherwood to read first though so that I would have a background to the central characters, Eve and Anna.
The story picks up where Netherwood left off with Eve and Anna living together following the loss of their respective husbands. Eve's business is expanding rapidly and she cannot keep up with demand so when the Earl offers to set her up in the mill, she gladly takes him up on his offer.
Meanwhile Anna has set her sights on living in Ravenscliffe, an empty house on the Netherwood estate, with Eve and their families as it's cramped living in Eve's former marital home. When her flair for design is spotted, she is soon recruited by the Countess to oversee the decoration of several rooms in Netherwood Hall.
For Eve and Anna this is a new beginning for them both enabling them to build new lives for their families, lives that are completely different to the ones they'd anticipated they'd be living when they were younger. But both women have proved that they can make it on their own and overcome the many obstacles that have appeared in their paths, and things are certainly looking rosier for their futures, both personally and professionally.
There are quite a few characters to get your head around in the book, from Eve, Anna and their families, their suitors, the mining community, Eve's work colleagues at the mill as well as the residents of Netherwood Hall, both the aristocratic family upstairs and their staff downstairs, but despite this it is an easy story to follow.
One of my favourite characters was Henrietta, the Earl's daughter, who is a young women ahead of her time with ideas as to the way she wants to live her life rather than the way she's expected to live it, and there's more to her friendship with her brother's fiance Thea than meets the eye...
I'd like to thank Madeleine at Sphere for sending me a copy of this book to review.