Park Lane, by Frances Osborne

Park Lane

Park Lane
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'Bea treads carefully on the thick carpet, quite deliberately like a servant. Her elder sister, Clemmie, tells her that it is ‘not done’ to worry about being heard but Bea enjoys this oh-so-silent rebellion against convention. She teases back, This is the twentieth century, Clem, things are about to change. ' Park Lane, June 2012.

London, 1914. Two young women dream of breaking free from tradition and obligation; they know that suffragettes are on the march and that war looms, but at 35 Park Lane, Lady Masters, head of a dying industrial dynasty, insists that life is about service and duty.    

Below stairs, housemaid Grace Campbell is struggling.She cannot admit to her family in Carlisle and brother, Michael, in London that she has been unable to fulfill their ambitions and find a position as a secretary. Believing Grace to earn far more than she does, they are asking her to send home money she simply does not have.

Meanwhile, she finds herself caught up in the lives of the family she is waiting upon - in particular, those of her employer, Lady Masters', son, Edward, and daughter, Beatrice, who is recovering from a failed relationship that would have taken her away from an increasingly stifling life.

As Grace finds herself forced to compromise principles that she holds dear, Beatrice, desperate to find a new purpose, becomes increasingly drawn into the captivating Mrs Pankhurst's underground world of militant suffragettes, and begins to embrace the violence she has always rejected. Soon Bea is playing a dangerous game that will throw her in the path of a man her mother wouldn't let through the front door.

Then war comes, and the choices Grace and Beatrice make amid the rapidly changing world of WW1 will set their secret lives on a dramatic and inevitable collision course.

Reviews & Comment UK

‘Osborne is at her best when reminding us of the struggles of the suffragettes and at her most moving when she takes her heroine off to France as an ambulance driver, carrying the broken bodies of a senseless war’ Evening Standard

‘Park Lane is defter than a comedy of manners. Osborne echoes the refrains of Henry James and Edith Wharton, creating an air of geniality, even gentle comedy, to conceal intrigue and darkness’ - Spectator

‘Truly elegant escapism - with a healthy dash of history thrown in’ - Red Magazine, Book of the Month

‘Adore this pacey page-turner’ - Easy Living magazine

'Frances Osborne will be in the vanguard of what is surely an emergent genre: books that appeal to Downton Abbey fans.' The Guardian (London)

'Frances Osborne's Park Lane, a gripping story about two young women, one a housemaid, on the youngest daughter of the house, captures brilliantly how the outbreak of war and the changing attitudes towards women affected social relationships.' The Bookseller

Top ten read of 2012: ‘A feisty novel about militant suffragettes.’ Easy Living


Sunday Times, News Review

You magazine – Emotional Ties interview

Reviews & Comment USA

Minneapolis Star-Tribune - June 4

Fans of "Downton Abbey" will have plenty of reading choices this summer to fill the void left by the popular television series, including Frances Osborne's second novel, which takes place between 1914 and 1923. Osborne deftly parallels emerging suffragette and erstwhile socialite Bea's privileged lifestyle with the lowered expectations of reluctant housemaid Grace. While their stations in life may be quite different, by the end of the novel their lives have intersected in ways they could have never foreseen.

Booklist - Issue: May 15, 2012

Rigid class roles and the struggling rise of women’s independence in 1914 Britain make up the heart of Osborne’s first novel. Grace Campbell is 18 when she arrives in London and reluctantly snags the only job she can, as housemaid to a wealthy family. Quickly plunged into the interests and intrigues of a family buffered by serving staff in a society on the brink of world war, Grace discovers the quietly opinionated daughter of the family, Beatrice, might be a kindred soul. Bea has returned from America following a broken engagement and is searching for deeper meaning in her life. Reflecting the viewpoints of each woman in her very different yet inexorably linked circumstances dictated by class mores, time, and country, the story line follows the trajectory of wartime looming over a country on the brink of massive changes. The premise of women’s suffrage laces tightly throughout the plot as well, lending inner conflict and viewpoints that enrich the characterization. Set in the same time period as the popular Downton Abbey television series, this title will appeal to fans of its era. — Julie Trevelyan

hardcover; paperback; ebook | 322 pages | 978-1844084791 | June 7, 2012