Finished July 26
The Web and the Wing by Teresa Raftery
This novel covers the time period from November 11, 1918 to the late days of 1930, and is the first book in a planned trilogy. The story begins in the village of Ardleagh in Lancashire, where the Earl of Eglinton and his family are returning following the was. The eldest son was killed, and James is now the one who will inherit the title, a development that will mean that his father will determine a different course of study for him than James wants for himself.
Claire has returned to the estate to help out, after working as a teacher in the village recently. She was taken in years before by her aunt Anna when Claire's father was killed in a mine accident, and her mother having died when she was just a toddler.
Over the years Claire and James had been playmates, Claire introducing James to the unstructured play of village children and a world his privileged upbringing wouldn't have normally exposed him to. The two also became close in other ways and feelings have developed between them, feelings that Claire knows can lead nowhere due to their difference in class. She determines to find herself a life of her own elsewhere and a chance encounter provides her an opportunity that will lead her farther than she thought.
The Earl's sister Amelia married a Spanish nobleman, and has a daughter Leonora a few years younger than James, and Leonora is allowed to attend boarding school in England and have her social debut there.
Leonora's father, Alva, Duke of Arradova, has a close friend, Raimundo de Conde, a general in the Army. As Spain sinks into political turmoil, Alva and Raimundo are involved and Leonora's future is being determined by her father.
As the plot moves the characters from Lancashire to London, Cordoba to Biarritz, Paris to Berlin, we see the lives of these three young people develop. We also see the political history that leads to the Spanish Civil War and World War II developing.
This is a novel that ties in the personal stories of these characters to history in a very real way. I will be looking forward to the continuation of their stories.