Ashton Park by Murray Pura
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012. The second, The Wings of Morning, will be published by Harvest House on February 1. Both of these novels center around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
For fans of the hugely popular Downton Abbey series, comes this equally enthralling story of the Danforth family of Ashton Park. Among the green hills and trees of Lancashire, only a few miles from the sea, lies the beautiful and ancient estate of Ashton Park. The year is 1916. The First World War has engulfed Europe and Sir William’s and Lady Elizabeth’s three sons are all in uniform–and their four daughters are involved in various pursuits of the heart and soul.
As the head of a strong Church of England family for generations, Sir William insists the Danforth estate hold morning devotions that include both family and staff. However, he is also an MP and away at Westminster in London whenever Parliament is sitting. During his long absences, Lady Elizabeth discreetly spends time in the company of the head cook of the manor, Mrs. Longstaff, who is her best friend and confidante. This friendship includes visits to a small Baptist church in Liverpool that exposes Lady Elizabeth to a less formal approach to Christian worship and preaching than she is used to and which she comes to enjoy.
I have heard this book recommended for fans of the currently popular Downton Abbey television series but since I have yet to watch it I am unable to make a comparison. Ashton Park chronicles the lives of the Danforth family which includes Sir William and Lady Elizabeth and their three sons and four daughters as well as the lives of their servants. Set primarily in England during World War 1, the tale jumps from character to character and place to place so often that I found it a bit difficult to keep up with who was who and what exactly was going on. With one son in the Navy aboard ship, another son in Ireland dealing with the rebellion there, another son a fighter pilot, and daughters with ideas and troubles of their own, there are plenty of interesting historical details as well as some intriguing personal stories. Interaction between the Danforth family and their servants is detailed including more than one forbidden romance.
Personally, I prefer a novel that does not have quite as much going on in it. I like to read about fewer primary characters and get to know them a bit better so that I become somewhat invested in their story. I know that different authors have different styles and that I have probably gotten used to series that feature one hero and one heroine with perhaps a side story or two that lead up to the next installment of a series. There are just so many interesting characters in Ashton Park that I would have liked to spend more time with each of them in stories of their own.
By all means, do not let my personal preferences stop you from reading Ashton Park. I may very well be the only person who found it a bit too busy for their taste.