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Summerset Abbey Paperback – Jan 15 2013

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (Jan. 15 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451698984
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451698985
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.8 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #299,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“SUMMERSET ABBEY is the first installment of an ambitious historical romance trilogy centering on the excesses and decline of the peerage in Edwardian-era Britain […] the romances entertain and keep the reader’s full attention. There are many cute couples who interact quite charmingly. Each character seems to have an equally alluring but individual personality, and the dialogue is well done. I would challenge anyone who feels they can guess the outcomes of all the pairings to have it figured out from the start; you’ll be hard-pressed … [Summerset Abbey] is a Cinderella story with a sound historical focus, detailing an evolving culture in the midst of concurrent romances.... The appeal for future installments is good, making this a series many will buy and recommend to friends.” (Book Reporter)

“A solidly entertaining Edwardian novel that will clearly appeal to fans of PBS’s Downton Abbey.” (NY Journal of Books)

"[A]n emotional novel that shares the tests of three young women’s strength, principles and loyalty that fans of Downton Abbey would enjoy." (Deseret News)

"Summerset Abbey is a smashing debut for T.J. Brown. While the novel does pay tribute to Downton Abbey in some ways, it is so original and unique with the story of the three young women. Brown makes Rowena, Victoria, and Prudence each come to life...whether it with a handsome pilot, uncovering family secrets, or struggling as a lady's maid. Brown beautifully captures the relationships between the women." (

"Loyalties are tested, passions found, and secrets are uncovered as Rowena,Victoria, and Prudence confront their futures [...] The author completely immerses us in the world: the details of the house, the customs, the contrast between the haves and the have-nots, the clothing, the food – I experienced it almost as vividly as watching the dramatization of this era on television." (Jamie Brenner Heroes and book review)

"Summerset Abbey, the first book in the Summerset Abbey series, sets the stakes high and will leave readers dying for more. It has definitely rekindled my love for all things historical fiction." (Katie's Book Blog)

"Wonderful and captivating tale of women raised to think ahead of the curve!" (

"Full of mystery, scandal, romance, and intrigue!" (Book Loving Mom)

"Summerset Abbey surpassed my expectations… If you’re looking fora fun, quick read to get you through the week until the next Downton Abbey episode, or if you’re looking for a wonderful new historical fiction series, Summerset Abbey is the book for you. I loved it and absolutely cannot wait for more!” (The Pretty Good Gatsby Book Reviews)

“[T]he story has enough twists, turns and secrets…to make all of us loversof Edwardian fiction happy!” (

"Fans of PBS's Downton Abbey will be enthralled by the plot." (

“If you like Downton Abbey, you're going to LOVE …Summerset Abbey!…Riddled with secrets, mystery and scandal, [Summerset Abbey] will pull you in from the very start and capture your heart and keep you captivated until the final page. The trilogy is sure to delight all Downton Abbey fans, and keep you entertained until season 5 is finally upon us!” (The Daily

“Author T. J. Brown has richly drawn these shifting times through well-drawn characters, compelling plotlines and conspiracy on nearly every other page.… [T]his novel will dazzle you… It’s the bee’s knees!” (

“Everything I loved about this book was everything I love about Downton Abbey. The strong female heroines who are also hopelessly sheltered and pampered. The class tension between upstairs and downstairs. The good intentions of the upper class who wish to treat everyone equally...but also don't want to lose their servants or their titles […] I can recommend Summerset Abbey with confidence for fans of the genre.” (Cozy Little Book Blog)

About the Author

T.J. Brown begins a sweeping trilogy set in Edwardian England with Summerset Abbey, her historical fiction debut. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit the author at

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This review was originally posted on my blog, The Baking Bookworm ([...]).

Author: T.J. Brown
Type: E-book (Advanced Reading Copy)
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Historical Fiction (England)
Series: First book in the Summerset Abbey trilogy
Publisher: Gallery Books
First Published: January 15, 2013
First Line: "Prudence Tate paused before the arched doorway to allow Victoria time to regain her composure."

1913: Rowena and Victoria Buxton are sisters who live with their widowed father, Phillip Buxton as part of the aristocracy. Phillip Buxton, was a very unconventional man for his time. Not only did he not have any qualms with raising his two daughters alongside their governess' daughter, Prudence, but against tradition, he encouraged his daughters to be free thinkers and even treated Prudence as one of his own giving the young girl every privilege awarded his own daughters. When Phillip dies, the girls are sent to live under their uncle's guardianship at his massive home, Summerset Abbey -- a sprawling estate on the outskirts of London.

Unfortunately the girls' uncle and aunt do not think of Prudence as family and are quite open in letting the girls know where they think Prudence ranks in the hierarchy of their household. In order for Prudence to be allowed to live at the Abbey, she is required to assume the position of lady's maid to her 'sisters' in order to keep up appearances in the extended family and society. Soon the sisters' close bond begins to shift as Prudence, raised as a lady, struggles with her new role and ultimately feels stuck between upper and lower society.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9ed16558) out of 5 stars 105 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ebf44e0) out of 5 stars A Great Historical Fiction Read (especially for Downton fans!) Jan. 24 2013
By Jill Tamari - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm such a huge fan of the BBC/PBS series Downton Abbey, so I was excited to give Summerset Abbey a read--it seemed right up my alley. And, I'm happy to report, it did not disappoint! This novel, the first in a trilogy, centers around three "sisters," two of whom (Victoria and Rowena) occupy the "upstairs" world of a sprawling estate that seems similar in many ways to Downton Abbey, and one (Prudence) who is relegated to the "downstairs" world of the estate to serve as a lady's maid, despite having been raised alongside her "sisters" as their equal. It's a great set-up that allows for fascinating dynamics among all three leading ladies, as guilt, pride, jealousy, pity, disillusionment, and ultimately a sense of injustice all come into play. The romantic storylines are also well-developed, but I personally found the relationships among the three women to be the most fun and interesting to watch unravel.

This novel is also incredibly rich in historical detail. The dialogue feels authentic, and the author does a fantastic job of creating a strong sense of time and place--I definitely felt transported to Summerset Abbey as the author described the luxurious décor, sprawling layout, and ornamental embellishments that define the estate... not to mention the lavish meals and social functions (I especially loved the ball scene).

One of the main elements of this novel that sets it apart from Downton Abbey is that the upstairs/downstairs dynamic that defines the relationships among the characters is actually called into question, especially by Victoria. These women weren't born and raised with such rigid class divisions as those enforced at Summerset Abbey (they move to the estate in the opening chapter of the novel), so it's interesting to see their reactions to the code of conduct at the estate. Further, Prudence has a foot in both worlds, so it's interesting to see her reaction to both the separation and the interplay between the upstairs and downstairs worlds of Summerset.

Overall, a purely enjoyable historical fiction read, especially for fans of Downton Abbey! I highly recommend this novel, and I cannot wait for the sequel!
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ebf4534) out of 5 stars A decadent, enchanting and immensely entertaining story Jan. 15 2013
By Fiktshun - Published on
Format: Paperback
Diving into SUMMERSET ABBEY feels decadent. Much like the elegant, opulent and scandalous world in which the story takes place. A world that's caught between the past and the present, one that's on the verge of modernism but still clings to traditionalism.

A world where entitlement and leisure, lavish parties and arranged marriages contrast with motorcars, aeroplanes, suffragettes and the working class. And where the lords and ladies of the manor continue to embrace their way of life even as the world moves forward without them.

SUMMERSET ABBEY is a story that is rich with beauty, includes a bevy of interesting characters, has a wonderful flow to the writing and feels fresh and modern yet captures the essence of the time period around which the story revolves.

Told from multiple perspectives, the author, T.J. Brown, gives readers the opportunity to meet three young women - Rowena, Prudence and Victoria - who grew up in the same household but who find themselves in very different circumstances following the death of the man who raised them.

Rowena discovers herself to be newly burdened with responsibilities she didn't ask for and ones she wasn't in the least bit ready for. Victoria's dreams of making her own way in the world are put on hold when it becomes necessary to relocate to Summerset Abbey. And Prudence is forced to face the harsh reality that while she always believed herself to be equal to her "sisters," outside of the place she used to call home she is anything but.

As the first book in this new series, SUMMERSET ABBEY sets up the series brilliantly. It builds the world, develops the characters, and moves the plot forward enough for readers to feel satisfied with what they've been given but still eager for more.

And while the pace is unhurried, the story has an easy flow that will keep readers connected throughout - even as it switches between each of the different character's storylines. It has characters that readers will want to spend time getting to know. It has writing that gives this tale a more contemporary feel, allowing for a broader appeal. And it has three different story arcs that readers will want to follow to their conclusion.

Brimming with secrets, lies, scandal and betrayal, SUMMERSET ABBEY is an immensely entertaining, thoroughly engaging and utterly enchanting tale that will keep readers in its thrall.
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ebf496c) out of 5 stars For Downton Abbey fans looking for a bit more realism Jan. 15 2013
By Miss Bonnie - Published on
Format: Paperback
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

The year is 1913 and Sir Philip Buxton has passed leaving his two daughters all alone. Placed into the care of their Uncle until the time they decide to marry, their life becomes upended when they are moved from their home to Summerset Abbey. Victoria and Rowena are also separated from their friend Prudence. Prudence was raised alongside the girls their entire lives and they are all three as close as sisters can be. Their Uncle won't stand for this continued treatment though as Prudence is a governess's daughter by birth. The question remains why would Sir Philip raise her as his own to begin with?

The big hook for me that got me interested in reading this book was the comparison to Downton Abbey. I am a sucker for anything Downton Abbey and love historical fiction in general so I anticipated liking this immensely While I did enjoy this, I found there to be one huge difference between the two. In Downton Abbey everything is glamorous and you find yourself so envious of the people and this beautiful time period they live in. In Summerset Abbey I found myself feeling rather sorry for these girls and the things they were obligated to do based on customs. I rather think though that Summerset Abbey gives a more accurate interpretation of that time period as it likely wasn't truly as exotic as it seems on television. For this reason I think many won't appreciate this as much because, like me, I can't help but love the glamorous façade.

The writing was entertaining but there were several times where additional descriptive details had been added that felt unnecessary and would have been better omitted. The mystery bit of the whole story could have been done much better as well. Nonetheless entertaining, I still felt I had the mystery solved weeks before these girls did. Considering this is a start of a new series, Summerset Abbey left off at a rather awkward point but definitely leaves you highly anticipating the next installment.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ebf4d2c) out of 5 stars Dull and Uninspiring Jan. 28 2014
By Ruth Clark - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I got through 21% of the book according to my Kindle. It was recommended to me on a library list as a good book for fans of Downton Abbey. It is in fact set in a large English House of the Downton Abbey style and in that same period. However I found the story quite predictable and the characters very stereotyped. Perhaps it gets better as it progresses? I however have moved on to other books.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ebf4cd8) out of 5 stars A death leads to changed circumstances for three young women April 19 2015
By Michelle Boytim - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is the first book in the series detailing the lives of 3 young women who have grown up together in late Edwardian era in England. On the death of Rowena and Victoria’s father, they are sent to live with family who treat their companion Prudence as no more than a servant. Prudence struggles with her new position as “neither fish nor fowl”. Victoria’s delicate health leads her to a discovery about family secrets and Prudence’s past. Each woman must find a way to live with their changed circumstances.