Downton Abbey fans can get a satisfying between-the-seasons fix of romance, betrayal and social commentary with Rutherford Park. Cooke paints deeply emotional, three-dimensional portraits of both upstairs and downstairs inhabitants, all of whom are both comforted by and resentful of their prescribed and proscribed roles in the manor home’s centuries-old history.
On the eve of World War I, the eighth Earl of Rutherford’s household is teetering on the brink of domestic disaster. The suicide of a pregnant housemaid sets off a chain of events that pits a dutiful but smothered wife against her neglectful husband, a restless and rebellious son against his undemonstrative father and an idealistically romantic daughter against society’s outmoded conventions. As Europe hurtles toward unparalleled destruction rooted in the repeated errors of the past, so do the residents of Rutherford Park. (BERKLEY, Jul., 336 pp., $16.00)