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Book Review: "The Wild Dark Flowers" by Elizabeth Cooke

"The Wild Dark Flowers" by Elizabeth Cooke
"The Wild Dark Flowers" by Elizabeth Cooke

War brings change. It brings change to everyone no matter what social class you were. War certainly did not leave the Cavendish family untouched at their beautiful Rutherford Park. Everyone from the earl and his wife, their children, and their servants were touched by war. They thought what had happened in the past to their family was sad and traumatic enough, but war would bring more pain. In "The Wild Dark Flowers" by Elizabeth Cooke, this sequel to Rutherford Park looks at the Cavendish family and those closest to them during World War I.

"The Wild Dark Flowers" continues the stories of numerous characters and details their secret pain and innermost feelings. William Cavendish is struggling with the knowledge of his wife's affair and his son's injury at war. Octavia Cavendish deals with her deep feelings for her lover American John Gould, her complicated feelings for her husband, her son at war, and wanting to be more useful in a world where women of nobility were supposed to be seen and not heard. Harry Cavendish, the golden son struggles with life at war. Louisa and Charlotte Cavendish struggle with a changing world and new feelings and roles. Meanwhile, even the servants and staff at Rutherford Park are affected by the war. Two footmen go off to war, the women they care about stay at home waiting for them, and the formidable Mrs. Jocelyn grows more unhinged by the day. Also, impacted is the handsome and dashing John Gould, Octavia's John who has his life forever changed by the Lusitania ship sinking. "The Wild Dark Flowers" is a novel about how war impacted everyone and changed lives forever.

"The Wild Dark Flowers" has high points and low points. The marriage between William and Octavia is particularly fascinating as you see their complicated feelings for one another and how broken they are, but how easily repaired they could be. Another high point of the novel is John's story of taking the famed Lusitania ship to reach his beloved Octavia, but the tragedy of the sinking changing his life forever. These stories are the most interesting and will keep you entertained.

The novel suffers from being bogged down by details of the war scenes. While the war was the star of the novel, there is too much portrayal of the combat. As a result, characters like Louisa and her budding inappropriate relationship are ignored or independent Charlotte's venture into nursing is barely mentioned. Hopefully these characters get their due in the next novel.

"The Wild Dark Flowers" is an average sequel. While Cooke's portrayal of characters like William, Octavia, and John are consistently strong, other characters get ignored and the plot is not as compelling. Hopefully, we will get a more interesting and deep portrayal of all the characters in the next book to come.

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