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Cavendon Hall

Cavendon Hall

3.7 32
by Barbara Taylor Bradford, Anna Bentinck (Read by)

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic saga of intrigue and mystique set in Edwardian England.
Cavendon Hall is home to two families, the aristocratic Inghams and the Swanns who serve them. Charles Ingham, the sixth Earl of Mowbray, lives there with his wife Felicity and their six children. Walter Swann, the premier male of the Swann


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic saga of intrigue and mystique set in Edwardian England.
Cavendon Hall is home to two families, the aristocratic Inghams and the Swanns who serve them. Charles Ingham, the sixth Earl of Mowbray, lives there with his wife Felicity and their six children. Walter Swann, the premier male of the Swann family, is valet to the earl. His wife Alice, a clever seamstress who is in charge of the countess's wardrobe, also makes clothes for the four daughters. For centuries, these two families have lived side-by-side, beneath the backdrop of the imposing Yorkshire manor. Lady Daphne, the most beautiful of the Earl's daughters, is about to be presented at court when a devastating event changes her life and threatens the Ingham name. With World War I looming, both families will find themselves tested in ways they never thought possible. Loyalties will be challenged and betrayals will be set into motion. In this time of uncertainty, one thing is sure: these two families will never be the same again.
Cavendon Hall is Barbara Taylor Bradford at her very best, and its sweeping story of secrets, love, honor, and betrayal will have readers riveted up to the very last word.

Editorial Reviews

Set in 1913, Cavendon Hall unfolds the story of an Edwardian realm where upstairs and downstairs intermingle in perhaps unexpected ways. For several generations, the Swanns have served the aristocratic Inghams of Yorkshire's Cavendon Hall and over that span, trust and intimacy have strengthened between the two families. Their shared lives seem to be moving smoothly until an event involving one of the Ingham's daughters threatens to ruin her and taint the name of the family. The ever faithful Swanns rush in to help, but there are unforeseen consequences for both families. A purebred Barbara Taylor Bradford creation.

From the Publisher
“First there was A Woman of Substance . . . and now from the same author comes an evocative and captivating story, filled with fascinating and compelling characters, drama, intrigue, love, passion, and revenge . . . set against the backdrop of a great ancestral home in Yorkshire. Vintage storytelling from ‘Britain's premier romantic novelist.'” —Daily Mail on Cavendon Hall
Library Journal
Bradford is no stranger to the family saga—her popular Harte series follows a wealthy English family through the 20th century—and this Edwardian-era drama follows the lives of the Inghams, masters of Cavendon Hall, and the Swanns, their servants. Glitz, glamour, and drama abound; parallels to Downton Abbey do, too.
Kirkus Reviews
Life—and melodrama—upstairs and downstairs at a Yorkshire stately home, as World War I nears. Sound familiar? Cavendon, however, lacks the tension that launched Downton Abbey to such acclaim. The estate is not threatened: Primogeniture is working just fine, given that Charles Ingham, sixth Earl of Mowbray, has two sons in addition to his four daughters; and the fiefdom is certainly not broke. Moreover, the Inghams have another advantage the Crawleys lack: the Swann family, whose members have, for more than 160 years, sworn to protect and serve them. Now, Walter Swann is the Earl's staunch valet; his wife, Alice, and daughter Cecily see to matters of décor and wardrobe; Swann matriarch Charlotte (the Earl's friend from childhood) is de facto estate manager; and her nephew Percy supervises Cavendon's extensive grounds as gamekeeper. Into this latter-day feudal utopia some trouble must fall, and it's introduced when Daphne, loveliest of the Earl's daughters, is raped by Richard, the eldest son of a neighboring family of country squires. At first advised by the Swanns to say nothing of her violation, secrecy is no longer possible once Daphne realizes she's pregnant. To avert scandal, plans are made to send Daphne abroad, which are soon mooted when second cousin Hugo Stanton—a vastly wealthy, good-hearted tycoon once wrongfully exiled from the family—returns and falls in love with Daphne at first sight. A hasty marriage ensues. Other conflicts emerge almost as afterthoughts to swathes of pages devoted to Bradford's usual meticulous inventories of gracious living. Although Richard is clearly behind a number of sinister events, the motivation for his villainy is never explored. Such a vague antagonist does nothing to undermine the book's deep conviction that no crisis is insurmountable given loyal friends, splendid furnishings and unlimited funds. Not even the Great War can jar this novel out of its stalwart complacency.

Product Details

Macmillan Audio
Publication date:
Cavendon Hall Series , #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Cecily Swann was excited. She had been given a special task to do by her mother, and she couldn’t wait to start. She hurried along the dirt path, walking toward Cavendon Hall, all sorts of ideas running through her active young mind. She was going to examine some beautiful dresses, looking for flaws; it was an important task, her mother had explained, and only she could do it.
She did not want to be late, and increased her pace. She had been told to be there at ten o’clock sharp, and ten o’clock it would be.
Her mother, Alice Swann, often pointed out that punctuality might easily be her middle name, and this was always said with a degree of admiration. Alice took great pride in her daughter, and was aware of certain unique talents she possessed.
Although Cecily was only twelve, she seemed much older in some ways, and capable, with an unusual sense of responsibility. Everyone considered her to be rather grown-up, more so than most girls of her age, and reliable.
Lifting her eyes, Cecily looked up the slope ahead of her. Towering on top of the hill was Cavendon, one of the greatest stately homes in England and something of a masterpiece.
After Humphrey Ingham, the First Earl of Mowbray, had purchased thousands of acres in the Yorkshire Dales, he had commissioned two extraordinary architects to design the house: John Carr of York, and the famous Robert Adam.
It was finished in 1761. Lancelot “Capability” Brown then created the landscaped gardens, which were ornate and beautiful, and had remained intact to this day. Close to the house was a man-made ornamental lake, and water gardens at the back of the house.
Cecily had been going to the hall since she was a small child, and to her it was the most beautiful place in the world. She knew every inch of it, as did her father, Walter Swann. Her father was valet to the earl, just as his father had been before him, and his great-uncle Henry before that.
The Swanns of Little Skell village had been working at the big house for over 160 years, generations of them, ever since the days of the first earl in the eighteenth century. The two families were closely intertwined and bound together, and the Swanns had many privileges, and were exceedingly loyal to the Inghams. Walter always said he’d take a bullet for the earl, and meant it sincerely.
Hurrying along, preoccupied with her thoughts, Cecily was suddenly startled and stopped abruptly. A figure had jumped out onto the path in front of her, giving her a shock. Then she saw at once that it was the young gypsy woman called Genevra, who often lurked around these parts.
The Romany stood in the middle of the path, grinning hugely, her hands on her hips, her dark eyes sparkling.
“You shouldn’t have done that!” Cecily exclaimed, stepping sideways swiftly. “You startled me. Where did you spring from, Genevra?”
“Yonder,” the gypsy answered, waving her arm toward the long meadow. “I see yer coming, liddle Cecily. I wus behind t’wall.”
“I have to get on. I don’t want to be late,” Cecily said in a cool, dismissive voice. She endeavored to step around the young woman without success.
The gypsy dodged about, blocked her way, muttering, “Aye. Yer bound for that owld ’ouse up yonder. Gimme yer ’and and I’ll tell yer fortune.”
“I can’t cross your palm with silver, I don’t even have a ha’penny,” Cecily said.
“I doan want yer money, and I’ve no need to see yer ’and, I knows all about yer.”
Cecily frowned. “I don’t understand…” She let her voice drift off, impatient to be on her way, not wanting to waste any more time with the gypsy.
Genevra was silent, but she threw Cecily a curious look, then turned, stared up at Cavendon. Its many windows were glittering and the pale stone walls shone like polished marble in the clear northern light on this bright May morning. In fact, the entire house appeared to have a sheen.
The Romany knew this was an illusion created by the sunlight. Still, Cavendon did have a special aura about it. She had always been aware of that. For a moment she remained standing perfectly still, lost in thought, still gazing at Cavendon … she had the gift, the gift of sight. And she saw the future. Not wanting to be burdened with this sudden knowledge, she closed her eyes, shutting it all out.
Eventually the gypsy swung back to face Cecily, blinking in the light. She stared at the twelve-year-old for the longest moment, her eyes narrowing, her expression serious.
Cecily was acutely aware of the gypsy’s fixed scrutiny, and said, “Why are you looking at me like that? What’s the matter?”
“Nowt,” the gypsy muttered. “Nowt’s wrong, liddle Cecily.” Genevra bent down, picked up a long twig, began to scratch in the dirt. She drew a square, and then above the square she made the shape of a bird, then glanced at Cecily pointedly.
“What do they mean?” the child asked.
“Nowt.” Genevra threw the twig down, her black eyes soulful. And in a flash, her strange, enigmatic mood vanished. She began to laugh, and danced across toward the drystone wall.
Placing both hands on the wall, she threw her legs up in the air, cartwheeled over the wall, and landed on her feet in the field.
After she had adjusted the red bandana tied around her dark curls, she skipped down the long meadow and disappeared behind a copse of trees. Her laughter echoed across the stillness of the fields, even though now she was no longer in sight.
Cecily shook her head, baffled by the gypsy’s odd behavior, and bit her lip. Then she quickly scuffled her feet in the dirt, obliterating the gypsy’s symbols, and continued up the slope.
“She’s always been strange,” Cecily muttered under her breath as she walked on. She knew that Genevra lived with her family in one of the two painted Romany wagons which stood on the far side of the bluebell woods, way beyond the long meadow. She also knew that the Romany tribe was not trespassing.
It was the Earl of Mowbray’s land where they were camped, and he had given them permission to stay there in the warm weather. They always vanished in the winter months; where they went nobody knew.
The Romany family had been coming to Cavendon for a long time. It was Miles who had told her that. He was the earl’s second son, had confided that he didn’t know why his father was so nice to the gypsies. Miles was fourteen; he and his sister DeLacy were Cecily’s best friends.
*   *   *
The dirt path through the fields led directly from Little Skell village to the backyard of Cavendon Hall. Cecily was running across the cobblestones of the yard when the clock in the stable block tower began to strike the hour. It was exactly ten o’clock and she was not late.
Cook’s cheerful Yorkshire voice was echoing through the back door as Cecily stood for a moment catching her breath, and listening.
“Don’t stand there gawping like a sucking duck, Polly,” Cook was exclaiming to the kitchen maid. “And for goodness’ sake, push the metal spoon into the flour jar before you add the lid. Otherwise we’re bound to get weevils in the flour!”
“Yes, Cook,” Polly muttered.
Cecily smiled to herself. She knew the reprimand didn’t mean much. Her father said Cook’s bark was worse than her bite, and this was true. Cook was a good soul, motherly at heart.
Turning the doorknob, Cecily went into the kitchen, to be greeted by great wafts of steam, warm air, and the most delicious smells emanating from the bubbling pans. Cook was already preparing lunch for the family.
Swinging around at the sound of the door opening, Cook smiled broadly when she saw Cecily entering her domain. “Hello, luv,” she said in a welcoming way. Everyone knew that Cecily was her favorite; she made no bones about that.
“Good morning, Mrs. Jackson,” Cecily answered, and glanced at the kitchen maid. “Hello, Polly.”
Polly nodded, and retreated into a corner, as usual shy and awkward when addressed by Cecily.
“Mam sent me to help with the frocks for Lady Daphne,” Cecily explained.
“Aye, I knows that. So go on then, luv, get along with yer. Lady DeLacy is waiting upstairs for yer. I understand she’s going to be yer assistant.” As she spoke Cook chuckled and winked at Cecily conspiratorially.
Cecily laughed. “Mam will be here about eleven.”
The cook nodded. “Yer’ll both be having lunch down here with us. And yer father. A special treat.”
“That’ll be nice, Mrs. Jackson.” Cecily continued across the kitchen, heading for the back stairs that led to the upper floors of the great house.
Nell Jackson watched her go, her eyes narrowing slightly. The twelve-year-old girl was lovely. Suddenly, she saw in that innocent young face the woman she would become. A real beauty. And a true Swann. No mistaking where she came from, with those high cheekbones, ivory complexion, and the lavender eyes … Pale, smoky, bluish-gray eyes. The Swann trademark. And then there was that abundant hair. Thick, luxuriant, russet brown shot through with reddish lights. She’ll be the spitting image of Charlotte when she grows up, Cook thought, and sighed to herself. What a wasted life she’d had, Charlotte Swann. She could have gone far, no two ways about that. I hope the girl doesn’t stay here, like her aunt did, Nell now thought, turning around, stirring one of her pots. Run, Cecily, run. Run for your life. And don’t look back. Save yourself.
Copyright © 2014 by Beaji Enterprises, Inc.

Meet the Author

BARBARA TAYLOR BRADFORD was born and brought up in England, where she started her writing career as a journalist. She has written twenty-eight international bestsellers. Cavendon Hall is her twenty-ninth novel. In 2007 Queen Elizabeth awarded her the OBE for her literary achievements. She lives in New York with her husband, television, and film producer Robert Bradford.

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Place of Birth:
Yorkshire, England
Christ Church Elementary School and Northcote Private School for Girls in Yorkshire, England

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Cavendon Hall 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
AnnieMcDonnell More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed the shows “Downton Abbey” and “Upstairs, Downstairs”, so when I read the synopsis of this novel, I knew I would love it or hate it; by comparison. Bradford’s novel is its very own story of a family and their caretakers. Bradford weaves the web of lives, secrets and lies between Servants and the Upper Class at Cavendon Hall, and of English Society from 1913-1920;. I could not believe the abundance of storylines Bradford’s novel had to share. Each of them could have been their own novel. I had to read the last paragraph and line a few times; hoping for a second book. I wanted to know what happens to Miles and his love for Cecily. Occasionally you fall in deep serious like with a novel, and this is one of them! I enjoyed each character in Bradford’s novel, just as you do on the television screen. A great writer helps you paint a picture! Bradford’s was beautiful. I may have disliked some characters, like Deidre and Felicity, but; I will admit if I like everyone something gets lost in the story. I already miss them, as you miss the season break between “Downton Abbey”. The question is, will there be a wine and tea named “Cavendon Hall”! I think there should be, or Bradford needs to consider it! If there is, I would enjoy a glass of wine or cup of tea as I learn of the life of Daphne and Hugo. What becomes of Charles? Charlotte? The Ingham’s are the family of the house, while the Swann’s run the house. To be fair, the Ingham’s needed the Swann’s; just as the Swann’s needed the Ingham’s. They share an oath that has been honored for centuries. This Oath has lived on for centuries, and each family member goes through a lot to uphold that solemn vow. The question is, can the deepest secrets between each person regarding an attack on Daphne Ingham before her ‘Coming Out” party. Will any of these lies make its way past the four walls of this house? While I sensed a bit of boredom more than half-way through the novel; I am so pleased that I finished it. Everything was neatly wrapped up in unexpected ways. I believe I got “bored” because I thought I knew where Bradford was going with the storyline. But, I was wrong. Do not compare “Cavendon Hall” to the television shows you believe this novel to be similar to. It stands Alone. Read it. Go Fall In Love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The storyline is interesting, but I could not get past the frankly painfully bad writing. It was as if the writing had been purposefully dumbed down to a children's reading level. I plowed through 100 pages but had to give up. Do yourself a favor and read the sample before buying it, which is what I should have done.
RollTide_San More than 1 year ago
Started off slow but very intense enjoyed a lot ready to read the second book
Picklejuice More than 1 year ago
The thing I loved about this book is that it was one I could read whenever I had a few minutes and still know what was going on. I could lay it down for several days and come back to it just like I had kept constantly reading. Good story line although fairly predictable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so disappointed in this book, not what I expected or hope for.
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ATatAT More than 1 year ago
Can't wait to read 'Cavendon Women' now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a wonderful read. Enjoyed the historical time of WW1 woven into the story and loved her characters. I have enjoyed reading all of Bradford's books. Can't wait for her next book.
emetry More than 1 year ago
If you like Downton Abbey, you will love this book. Personally, I found the prose a bit redundant, over dramatic and a rip-off of Downton Abbey, right down to the location. I'm surprised Julian Fellowes isn't all over this-Legally.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perfect for summer read or anytime. For those avid readers of this author, they will notice this will be perhaps another series?! (wishful thinking) Always enjoyed every book Barbara taylor Bradford writes, can't wait till her next book.
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Beachbabe1 More than 1 year ago
Not a fan. She does descriptions of homes, scenery, & clothing well, but this story bordered on ridiculous! She's watched one too many episodes of Downton Abbey and hasn't copied them very well!!
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Mcduzzy More than 1 year ago
Good story and difficult to put down, however the ending was rather disappointing. Hopefully the sequel will provide some resolution to many unanswered questions. I would recommend waiting until the sequel is available before investing in Cavendon Hall.
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Here, Kel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The StarClan cat dashed forward, knocking out Annex Fern.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A shadow runs in and drags the apprentice back to ThunderClan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh<p> M y <p> DOG!!!
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