Book Tour Review: Netherwood by Jane Sanderson

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Title: Netherwood
Author: Jane Sanderson
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 464
Published: December 31 2013
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
Rating: 3/5

Eve Williams is about to discover just how the other half really live, in this epic and absorbing "big house" drama perfect for "Downton Abbey" fans

Above stairs, Lord Netherwood keeps his considerable fortune ticking over with the profits from his three coal mines in the vicinity. It's just as well the coal is of the highest quality, as the upkeep of Netherwood Hall, his splendid estate on the outskirts of town, does not come cheap. And that's not to mention the cost of keeping his wife and daughters in the latest fashions--and keeping the heir, the charming but feckless Tobias, out of trouble. Below stairs, Eve Williams is the wife of one of Lord Netherwood's most stalwart employees. When her ordered existence amid the terraced rows of the miners' houses is brought crashing down by the twin arrivals of tragedy and charity, Eve must look to her own self-sufficiency, and talent, to provide for her three young children. And it's then that "upstairs" and "downstairs" collide in truly dramatic fashion.

If you're a fan of Downton Abbey, Jane Sanderson's Netherwood is likely the perfect bookish companion for your upstairs/downstairs needs. It's a layered, detailed, informative look at both classes of English society in the early 1900s. I have never watched the show, but the tensions between the have and the have nots of the story was more than enough to pull me into Netherwood. It's a dense historical read and the sheer amount of detail may dissuade some readers, but it paints a very vivid picture of life for everyone.

Focusing on a small mining village of Netherwood that ekes out a living and the nobility, who own the mines, and live in excess, Sanderson's characters live in very different worlds. Eve, the main character from the village, is a smart, stubborn woman. She's smart, but lives in week-to-week security, based on her husband mining enough, the workers not striking, or a cave-in. From her lifestyle to her dialect (dropped aitches and all), she could not be more different than her Hoyland family counterparts. It's easier to sympathize and like Eve more than the others. Everything she has, she has worked hard for. Everyone she loves, she fights to protect. 

The sheer length of the novel is a double-edged sword. There is no doubt that Sanderson knows her era and has done her research, but this is a long book. 460 pages isn't huge, but when every page is filled with detail and information, it can be a long haul. The plot can feel a bit stretched, though the characters are able to keep their charm as long as needed. The characters really are the high point of the novel, and following them through their trials and tribulations are compelling.

For a book that is relatively unknown, I think a lot of historical fiction fans would appreciate Jane Sanderson's Netherwood. There's rich atmosphere, compelling characters, and an author who undoubtedly knows her stuff. It takes a commitment to see it all the way through, but this is an interesting novel.

Netherwood Tour Stops

Monday, January 13th: Mom in Love With Fiction
Tuesday, January 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, January 15th: BookNAround
Thursday, January 16th: Drey’s Library
Monday, January 20th: She’s Good Books on Her Mind
Tuesday, January 21st: Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, January 22nd: Bibliophilia, Please
Monday, January 27th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, January 27th: Mel’s Shelves


  1. I have seriously spent the entire afternoon looking for Downton-esque books. This one is going on the list!

  2. Sometimes I really enjoy lengthy books like this because I can spend a long time with characters I really enjoy!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm glad you enjoyed this one overall.


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