The Misbegotten by Katherine Webb.
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) (August 1, 2013)
Dark truths. Beautiful lies. Bath, England, 1821. Rachel Crofton escapes the binds of her unhappy employment as a governess by marrying a charming self-made businessman. She sees a chance to create the family and home she has so long been without, but her new life soon takes an unexpected turn. Through her new husband's connections, Rachel is invited to become the companion of the reclusive Jonathan Alleyn, a man tortured by memories of the Peninsula War, and tormented by the disappearance of his childhood sweetheart, Alice. Starling, foundling servant to the Alleyn family, is convinced that Alice, the woman she loved as a sister, was stolen from her. Did Alice run away? Or did something altogether more sinister occur? Starling is determined to uncover the truth. Others want only to forget, and will go to extreme lengths to do so. Rachel's arrival has an unsettling effect on the whole Alleyn household, and suddenly it seems that the dark deeds of the past will no longer stay contained.Shattering truths lurk behind Bath's immaculate facades, but the courage Rachel and Starling need to bring these truths to light will come at a very high price.
This book begins in Bath England in two time slots, not that far between, 1803-1821. In England this is still the time of servants and upper class. Although in this book the servants are few, mystery surrounds the girl named Alice, who is being "cared for" by the Alleyn family. She knows not who her parents are/ were she only knows she is bound to the the eldest Alleyn grandfather for all she has.
Eventually she meets his grandson and although it is not allowed they fall in love. Alice is told nothing can come of it as he cannot marry below his station in life and he has been betrothed from the time of his birth.
After the war Jonathan Alleyn comes home wounded and traumatized from the war and from a letter he received from Alice telling him she loves him but they can never be together. For 12 years survives in hell in a house with his mother and few servants, all of who are afraid of Jonathan.
Rachel enters the picture as she marries a man trying to make his fortune in wine selling. It is discovered by Startling (a kitchen worker, who was raised by the now missing Alice) that this woman, Rachel, looks quite a bit like Alice. Could there be a connection? Would her being seen by Jonathan drive him more mad? And where is Alice? Did she run off with another ? If so why? Was she harmed? Many family mysteries begin to come to the surface when Rachel comes to the Alleyn house.
This was a good read. Though a bit of a "past romance" the mystery parts to discover just got better as the book went along. The print was a big larger than normal (but not LARGE) so it was easier to read and probably wouldn't have been so many pages had the print been smaller.
I enjoyed this book and was a bit sorry when it ended, even though the length was more then the average book.
I've read this author before: A Half Forgotten Song, The Unseen and The Legacy. I can't say I searched the author out but see seems to write the type of books I search for.
If you like period pieces with family mysteries this book would suit you!