It was Shakespeare who wrote, “The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children” in The Merchant of Venice – and this book is a very long but very eloquent illustration of this idea. It is the saga of an outwardly successful, but inwardly, exceedingly dysfunctional family who live on a fairytale estate called Oxmoon, in Wales. The story begins when Ginevra, raised with her cousins at Oxmoon, returns home after the death of her husband, much to the anxious anticipation of Robert, who has been in love with her since their youth. Their reunion brings to light some of the family history but also propels the family forward into years of struggle that center around who will be master of the esteemed estate.
The writing in this story is beautiful. There is an intricate weaving of drama and psychological tension which hold onto the reader’s attention throughout the 1171 pages. It is a comment on the British gentleman’s insistence on the “stiff upper lip” and its hypocrisy. It is also a historical walk through the early 20th century, with its wars and economic struggles that plagued Europe.
There is a lot to this book – but it also requires a lot of time and attention. In my opinion, it was definitely worth it!