Cover Image: The Master of Measham Hall

The Master of Measham Hall

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Member Reviews

Thanks to NetGalley and Duckworth Books for the advanced reader copy of this book.

I felt this book had such great promise but feel short in some areas.

The main character of Alethea was well fleshed out and she stood as her own character, but I felt a lot of the other characters could have been a bit more well-rounded with their history delved into a bit more. It would have allowed me to feel slightly more compassion for the secondary characters.

I did think that the clever part of the book was as to the identify of “the master” of Measham hall. At the start, I assume we’re led to believe it is the Mr Calverton; we then realise that Alethea comes from Measham hall, so maybe the master is her father, or brother. But we soon start to learn that perhaps she is in fact the master of her childhood estate. 

Abby does have a very good hand for description so you can place yourself in Alethea’s shoes, and you can feel the horror of the plague around them, not unlike the pandemic we’re experiencing now, although hopefully not to the same devastating extent.

I found the first half of the novel rather slow, which not much going on, but then come the second half, so much was going on that it felt a little rushed. I also felt it ended quite abruptly, which I’m hoping is because of a potential sequel as I think there’s a lot e stories that could be explored further.

Overall I don’t think it holds up to a lot of other historical fictions I have read, but as a debut novel, I think it has promise. One nice touch I liked was that instead of simply picking any old fictional house to write about, Abby wrote about her own ancestor (albeit in a fictionalised way - or so we assume). Having said all of that, I can really see it being picked up as a new BBC period costume drama.
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I found this hard going to start with but once the story got going the book got better and better.  I am looking forward to the next in the series. My advice stick with it and you will be rewarded.
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It is five years since King Charles II returned from exile, the scars of the English Civil Wars are yet to heal and now the Great Plague engulfs the land. Alethea Hawthorne is safe inside the walls of the Calverton household as a companion to their daughter. She waits in anticipation of her brother William’s pardon for killing a man in a duel before they can both return to their ancestral home in Measham Hall.

But when Alethea suddenly finds herself cast out on the streets of London, a long road to Derbyshire lies ahead of her. Militias have closed their boroughs off to outsiders for fear of contamination. Fortune smiles on her when Jack appears, an unlikely travelling companion who helps this determined country girl to navigate a perilous new world of religious dissenters, charlatans and a pestilence that afflicts peasants and lords alike.
I enjoyed this story, it was well written, had good narrative and good pacing and the characters were well developed and relatable. I read this quickly and would definitely recommend it
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The book follows the adventures of Alethea Hawthorne in 1665, beginning in London with the Plague. From there it follows an unusual path, as circumstances mean she has to fend for herself, as she tries to get back to her family home, Measham Hall, experiencing love and loss along the way.

I enjoyed this book - my only complaint with it was that I felt that some sections were rushed through. The section set in Epping Forest, for example, spanned a substantial part of the story, but subsequent, equally interesting parts of Alethea's story were rushed over very quickly, and that was disappointing. Ultimately, it ended quite abruptly and unsatisfyingly and I would just have liked either a bit more, or a bit less (for the story to have ended earlier, if there is to be a sequel perhaps?)

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a free review copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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Used to reading about royal court intrigues, I was pleasantly surprised by The Master of Measham Hall. Abney creates a complex story with rich historical details and characters, drawing on a lesser-known period of English history and a lesser-known group of English individuals. Alethea, the protagonist, feels keenly and humanly. 

However, the pace is slow and I felt that there was little climax in the novel. Nevertheless, it was a solid debut showcasing an impressive breadth of historical knowledge. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Duckworth Books for providing me with an advance copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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Really enjoyed "The Master of Measham Hall" by Anna Abney and am delighted to hear that there will be more in the series.  Set at the time of the plague, it follows Alethea, time spent in Epping Forest and subsequent trip to her family home in Derbyshire.  Don't want to give any spoilers but there is a nice family dynamic going on with friend Ellen and her son Robin.
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Great piece of historical fiction by Anna Abney.  She wrote this fictional story apparently about her own ancestors- which I found a brilliant idea.  The main character-Althea- lives as a lady’s companion as Calverton Hall, but dreams of returning to her ancestral home of Measham Hall.  When the plague hits England hard- Althea finds herself turned out and having to seek assistance from her father.  She makes the journey to her father and his cruel wife.  I found Althea’s character compelling and unique- you become more and more personally invested in her future as you progress through the book.  This to me is always a sign of great character development.  Hope to see more historical fiction from Anna Abney!
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The Plague is devastating England, religious strife likewise. Set in mid-17th century, this story follows a young Catholic woman from being a companion to the daughter of some Protestant relatives, her abandonment by them, a sojourn with Puritans, not always so pure, in Epping Forest to reaching her father's estate in Derbyshire where all is not well. The story covers a lot of social life at the time. The fear of the Plague and the various attempts to avoid it are well-written. The religious intolerance below, if not always on, the surface sadly feels so true. What then happens at Measham is stretching it rather for me but makes a good story - and that's what a novel is after all. The ending is disappointing and not sure whether the author just faded or is going to have another chapter in Alethea's life.. There are certainly quite a few loose ends. If the latter I hope it does not descend into a farce which is always possible given the set-up. Thanks to NetGalley and Duckworth Books for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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I really enjoyed this book by Anna Abney.  I found that the book started off slowly but as we got further into the story, I had a really hard time putting it down.  I wanted to know how things turned out for Alethea and she was such an engaging character.  The writing was also beautiful! Thank you Netgalley and Duckworth Books for the ARC but all thoughts are my own.
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The Adventures and misadventures of Alethea Hawthorne, a 20 years old Catholic left on her own devices and forced to leave London, a city totally ravaged by the plague in the Master of Measham Hall, a rollicking and very entertaining Restoration romp brilliantly and elegantly written by first time novelist Ana Abney. 
Determined to save her life and reach her father's estate in Derbyshire, a smart & plucky Alethea will soon embark on a perilous odyssey across an England devastated by a silent and merciless killer and where the embers of the bloody Civil War are still slowly smoldering and  threatening to rekindle at any moment the deeply devisive religious passions still running deep within its society. Fiendishly plotted and blessed with a cast of unforgettable and very colorful characters, this action packed novel is a masterful tapestry of mid 17th century England and its glorious Restoration. A basketful of delicious surprises that the reader  needs to enjoy without any moderation! Hopefully Ms. Hawthorne will be back very very soon.....👍

Many thanks to Netgalley and Duckworth for this terrific ARC.
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Thank you very much to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book and to Netgalley for the chance to post a review. 

The Master of Measham Hall is a beautifully written and immersive tale that took me straight into the 17th century world from the very first page. It is vividly detailed, the sort of historical novel where you feel as though you have stepped into and are inhabiting the world it creates.. I found myself completely wrapped up in the intricate story and It was an absolutely pleasure to read this book. Bravo Anna Abney on a fast-paced and engrossing debut!
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I received The Master of Measham Hall as part of a NetGalley giveaway.

Shortly after the English Restoration, Alethea Hawthorne is serving as a companion to a young woman of standing as plague ravages London. When a stroke of cruelty leaves her homeless and friendless, she embarks on a journey into the English countryside, camping and living with religious separatists while beginning to question her royalist Catholic upbringing. Circumstances soon force her out of this situation as well and she begins to make her way towards her ancestral home to seek aid from her father and unfriendly stepmother. Still more heartache awaits, however, and Alethea finds herself forced to undertake a ruse that will lead her to challenge her question her worth and place in society.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, even as I was reading it, but on the whole I found it very worthwhile. It effectively paints a portrait of the deeply contentious nature of religious divisions and the more unsavory aspects of both sides of the debate. In some ways the ending feels a bit unsatisfying (the book seems to be begging for a sequel) but I also appreciated it because our lives don't always come in easily digestible chapters; there's always uncertainty, bittersweetness, and shades of gray. I felt her disguise and everyone's wholehearted acceptance of it was a bit suspect, as I'm not sure a woman of that time period could successfully pull such a thing off without some word slipping out. But generally, I found it an engrossing, unique read that kept my attention through many twists and turns, and an effective look at the religious and political turmoil of the era.
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This was a great read that demonstrates a young woman who gradually finds maturity and grows out of her innocence. The reader gets to follow this journal every step of this amazing novel. The characters are well written and there are lots of twists. She is sent on some errand by a family member, and when she returns, she finds that her family, have packed all of their belongings up and left her. When she tries to make the journey to her family in Derbyshire, she gets side-tracked and takes a trip to Epping Forest, where she starts living in a community of Puritans until she makes the journey home to Measham Hall. That is all I am prepared to divulge in terms of the plot but I will say that the characters are well written, the plot is well constructed and the pace is a good pace. I would highly recommend.
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A great read, which demonstrates a young woman who gradually finds maturity and grows out of being an innocent girl. Every step of her journey is detailed in this extraordinary novel, and I would recommend it. Alathea is perfectly portrayed in this novel, and her character evolves with each new twist of the story. She is sent on an errand by a member of her family, and is possibly not expected to return, yet when she does return she finds that her family, the London branch of it, have packed up and left her. When she tries to make the journey to her family in Derbyshire she is sidetracked by a trip to Epping Forest, where she lives in a community of Puritans until she can make the journey home to Measham Hall. She is accompanied byJack, who she recognises as being the apothecaries assistant who she was sent to on an errand, again by her family. I will not say any more about the plot, or it would spoil things, but the novel moves on at a good pace, and keeps the reader turning the page. Impressive period detail, the research is evident all the way through t he book.
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A tad predictable in parts,this was never the less an entertaining look at the different religions and how they viewed each other during the times of the plague.
A good central character,who has a lot thrown at her,yet learns to stand on her own two feet,and go after what she wants.
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