The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig
(NetGalley review copy)
The Pratt Mansion. The forgotten room within this mansion. And three women. And three men. This is a multigenerational story that had me right from the beginning.
Olive VanAlan works as a housemaid in the Pratt Mansion, the house her father designed but never was paid for. Very soon after the mansion was finished and his invoice returned to him rejected and unpaid, Olive’s father kills himself and to exact her revenge on the Pratt family, she takes a job as a housemaid so she can infiltrate, investigate and make the family pay.
In the 1920’s Olive’s daughter, Lucy, takes a job in the law firm handling the Pratt estate hoping to find the truth about her paternity.
During the war years, Lucy’s daughter, Kate, works as a doctor in the mansion turned hospital, forever trying to get the recognition and respect the male doctors have. A soldier arrives and Kate puts her reputation on the line to try to save his leg. In getting to know this patient, he and Kate come to know the Pratt family secrets the forgotten room holds. . We are teased throughout with a ruby necklace that is passed down to each of the women but is also painted into a portrait of Olive.There are twists in this story I thought I had figured out, but was wrong. I was close, but didn’t quite get it right. I was confused a little at first but those confusions soon ironed themselves out. There are three authors of this book and I thought that might be at least one too many. I wish I knew the background of that decision. Did they each write one woman’s story? Did they sit together and parse it out between them and decide one handles the details, one handles the men and one the women? The story doesn’t read choppy, it flows quite seamlessly for having three authors. There is a series of books written by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry about Peter Pan. I read an interview in which they said they wrote and sent the story back and forth in emails. Ridley Pearson wrote the action parts, Dave Barry wrote the other.
Before knowing that, I used to dare anyone to tell which parts were written by which author. The Forgotten Room is like that.