16 Nov The Will by Rebecca Reid
The most dysfunctional family since the Windsors!
Today my blogtour takes me to Roxborough Hall in Norfolk, to meet the Mordaunt family who have continuously inhabited the house since Tudor times.
Not that this imposing manor has always passed from father to son, or even daughter. A condition of its entail means the current owner chooses to whom to bequeath the house – and it doesn’t always have to be family.
Tradition dictates any interested family members gather together after the present incumbent’s death to discover whether or not he or she is the lucky beneficiary.
Once it’s made public, the others must grind their teeth and offer congratulations, no matter how undeserving they think the recipient is.
It’s a system that’s worked – until now.
Fast forward to the present day, and the Mordaunts have gathered together at Roxborough Hall to mourn the passing of their beloved mother and grandmother, Cecily, who inherited the house from her uncle when she was just 23, and moved there to live with her family and constant companion, Violet, who remained with her all her life.
Violet is there to welcome Cecily’s elder son David, his wife Briony and young son Lucca, along with David’s two older daughters, Willa and Lizzie.
Next on the scene is younger son Grant, his current girlfriend Angelique and his adopted son Jonty.
But missing is Elspeth, Cecily’s only daughter. The two have been estranged for years and she has sent a lawyer to represent her.
Financial or emotive, all have their reasons for wanting to be Cecily’s chosen heir, and all have their own plans for what they will do with it if they’re the lucky one.
But with the stakes so high, there is bound to be tension and gradually family dynamics unfold and familial bonds unravel as each dances around the others in a convoluted reel of “it won’t be you”.
This was a deliciously different family domestic noir. There are no murders, but there is plenty of drama in a plot that flows effortlessly through the pages, never faltering as past and present events gradually catch up to each other to climax in a grand and very unexpected finale.
The characters are brilliant. Each has their strengths and their flaws – it’s hard to dislike any of them, or to favour one over the other in their quest for the house.
Maybe that’s why Cecily found it so difficult …
David is kind but weak, Grant is a bit of a playboy. Willa is so vulnerable, Lizzie is an endearing scatterbrain. Vet Jonty is strong and appealing. Elspeth, when she finally makes an appearance, is more sympathetic than expected.
And we mustn’t forget Violet, so loyal to Cecily, and an impassive onlooker in the days after her death.
Then of course there is the late Cecily, who may be departed but is still very much present in the hearts and minds of her family. All have their own recollections of her – she is a fascinating character who develops over the course of the story, just like the others.
With great scene setting, strong characterisation, humour and emotion in equal measure, this is a sharply observed story of a dysfunctional family with secrets that have the ability to tear its members apart.
The Will by Rebecca Reid is published by Transworld Digital in paperback and ebook
About the Author
Rebecca Reid is a freelance journalist. She is a columnist for the Telegraph Women’s section and has written for Marie Claire, the Guardian, Metro.co.uk, the Saturday Telegraph, the Independent, Stylist, Glamour, the iPaper, the Guardian, Indy100, LOOK and the New Statesman amongst others. Rebecca is a regular contributor to Sky News and ITV’s This Morning as well as appearing on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, LBC, BBC News 24 and the BBC World Service to discuss her work.
She graduated from Royal Holloway’s Creative Writing MA in 2015. She is the author of Perfect Liars, Truth Hurts, Two Wrongs and The Power of Rude.