The Forgotten Room
By Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig
Author Website: http://karen-white.com/, http://www.beatrizwilliams.com/, http://www.laurenwillig.com/
1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.
Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate? And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother? In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?
The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers. (Goodreads)
The Forgotten Room tells the heartbreaking tale of three generations of women, each finding love but ruled by class and circumstance. It is an entertaining trip through the Golden Age, the Roaring Twenties, and World War II, full of timely detail, passion, and the disappointment and regret of lost loves.
- Olive Van Alen has seen her station in society fall and blames the Pratt family for her father’s downfall and death. She takes a job as a maid in the mansion in hopes of finding the ammunition she needs to expose Henry August Pratt for the scoundrel that she feels he is and gain justice for her father. However, she does not count on falling for Pratt’s son Harry, a student and artist with a good heart.
- Lucy “Jungmann” Young has left her working class home in Brooklyn for employment at the Manhattan law firm that handles all of the Pratt business. Based on her mother’s death bed words, she suspects that the baker she knew as her father may not be, and she seeks to find the truth about her parentage. Working as a secretary for Philip Schuyler, Henry Pratt’s step-grandson, she hopes to find evidence among the Pratt papers, but she does not count on Philip’s charm or meeting John Ravenel, an art dealer from Charleston looking for answers of his own.
- Kate Schuyler is a woman in a man’s world. The only female doctor on staff, she is harassed by the other doctors and disrespected by most of the nurses. She finds herself immediately drawn to her new patient Captain Cooper Ravenel when he arrives at the hospital suffering from a leg wound suffered in Normandy. He claims that he has been drawing her face since he was a child, and she is amazed when she finds a miniature portrait of a woman with her face wearing the necklace that was given to her by her mother among his possessions. The pair piece together bits from both of their family histories to solve a mystery of fate.
The Forgotten Room has all of the elements that draw me to some of my favorite books – historical settings, a touch of romance, and a mystery to be solved. It does not hurt that it is co-written by authors I enjoy, Lauren Willig, Karen White, and Beatriz Williams. Each author wrote one of the threads of the story, providing each female protagonist her own strong, individual voice. Even so, the overall tone of the novel is consistent and flows seamlessly. The alternating stories kept me guessing throughout and compelled me to keep reading to unravel the secrets of the past. As a reader, I could not assume that I had it figured out at any point in the story because, sure enough, my thoughts would be proven wrong.
Yes, The Forgotten Room tells three love stories, but it is really about the repercussions of choices we make and how those choices influence both those around us and generations to come. The couples in all three threads are victims of circumstance and class standings which they cannot control, but you cannot help but think “if only” they did or said something different, what a different story there would be to tell. Disappointment and regret are common with all three generations, but also fate plays a part. You do not know until the very end if there will be a happy ending for any of them or not. Kate and Cooper were my favorite characters, possibly because Kate did not have any nefarious motives to achieve.
I greatly enjoyed The Forgotten Room and recommend it to fans of any of the authors and those who enjoy historical settings and romance with a touch of intrigue.