THE BROKEN GATE by ANITA BURGH.
It was winter, 1901. The ancient facade of Cresswell Manor surveys a vast and rich estate - but the land has fallen into decay. A broken gate hangs open - always about to be mended - while the workers' cottages are in dire need of repair. Mortimer Cresswell is an old man now, about to breathe his last, and at his deathbed his family waits, patiently to scrap over his fortune. Only Hannah, Mortimer's daughter, can see that the family has become consumed by private ambition, jealousy and greed.
When Stanislas von Ehrlich, a self-made man of fortune, moves into the neighbourhood, the natural order of things change. Stanislas - ruthless in his desire to succeed - has his eye on Mortimer's land, but the Cresswells refuse to sell, sparking a massive feud. Where tempers flare, passion may follow. Esmeralda von Ehrlich - headstrong, spoilt and beautiful - has never been refused. When she finds herself drawn to a member of the Cresswell household, she is determined to exact her will and exercise her desire.
Bound to another by conflict, passion and betrayal, both families are set on a collision course so powerful, it will completely alter their world.
....... From the outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE: "How goes the enemy?"
MEMORABLE MOMENT: "That's too much!" Mrs Gilroy shouted, picked up the pie she had been trimming and threw it at Jose, who ducked. It hit the wall.
A story of two families - one 'old money', the other 'new'. A story of two estates, the families who own them and the workers who work them. A story of the 'have's' and 'have not's'.
Typical of it's genre perhaps best describes this novel - like a hundred other books of it's type there was nothing new about the story and with nothing of real interest happening until well over page 100 The Broken Gate is a bit of a late starter which never seems to fully bloom.
Full of stereotypical characters - many with wonderful names (Lavendar Potts and Dolly Pepper to name but two) - the women are especially badly written and seem to fall into one of two groups - weak and oh so nice or strong and thoroughly awful. The men, however, fare little better and also seem to fall into being either totally weak willed individuals or pantomime villains. The estate owners being shown as people who either love or loathe the 'workers' (there is no middle ground) whilst the workers themselves are written mostly as good characters, 'salt of the earth' types with the odd 'baddie' thrown in for good measure.
Not a good read by any stretch of the imagination, it is never-the-less readable. The main problem being the author seems to start a strand to the story only to end it in the most easy and convenient way which almost always proves predictable and does not make for very interesting reading.
The first book in a trilogy - will I be reading parts 2 and 3? Never say never but I shall not be going out of my way to obtain any further books.