Home to Cavendish Review - Don't Trust Jerks!
by Antoinette Tyrrell
Published in 2019
I was approached by a new and upcoming author Antoinette Tyrrell to review her book Home to Cavendish as it is her first ever published novel. Having been a fan of historical fiction over the years, I was thrilled to get the chance to read this one. Set in Ireland and switching between 1922 and 2002, I was very interested in reading about the strong women in this tale. For those looking for the perfect summer beach novel, Home to Cavendish is just the read for you!
Home to Cavendish begins by giving us some insight into Cavendish - a beautiful massive home that has been in the Cavendish family for generations until the 1920’s. Around the same time, we get to meet Edith Cavendish, the only child and heir to Cavendish who is bored to death while the civil war rages on around them. We are then brought into current time - 2002 - where we meet the new owner Elenore Stack who was raised in Cavendish and is now working on renovations of the family home after her parents’ deaths. Working together with her partner, Donnacha O’ Callaghan, they have dreams of turning the home into a guesthouse for future guests visiting Ireland. While Elenore and Donnacha seem happy together, they are very different from each other with Donnacha being very materialistic and flashy like buying a piece of art for $100k while Elenore is more humble and subtle.
It is quickly revealed that Donnacha is actually using Elenore to get his hands on Cavendish once they marry to turn into a boutique hotel in a bid to make himself very wealthy. Behind Elenore’s back, he has already begun several renovation plans knowing Elenore doesn’t want that for her home. It is also revealed that while he has painted a bad picture of his ex-wife, she is a very caring and understanding woman who was cheated on during the course of their marriage and barely struggles to pay her living expenses while raising their son since Donnacha isn’t paying his part of their agreement. Elenore is blind to all of this until one night while hanging out with her friend Leslie that she discovers several blueprints for Cavendish… with none of them being what she agreed could occur. She immediately feels betrayed and furious at Donnacha but decides to wait until he returns from his trip to confront him. Just her luck, Karen also shows up to confront Donnacha about his lack of financial support when she runs into Elenore instead. After realizing the lies they were both fed, they quickly become close friends.
Elenore discovers a diary that belonged to the previous tenant of the home in the 1920’s that looks like it is from a teenagers perspective of her boredom and falling in love with one of the stable boys. Elenore becomes intrigued by this diary and meets Sean who does some investigation with her to discover that it belonged to Edith Cavendish. Edith had planned to run away to America with her lover before the entries suddenly stop. They find a neighbor who used to work for the Cavendish hall who fills them in on the rest of what happened to Edith and her family. Edith’s lover betrayed her and brought several people to try and burn down Cavendish as their own rebellion in the war, much to Edith’s devastation. Edith then disappeared and the family just brushed everything under rug and pretended she never existed after learning of her plans to run away. After more investigation, they find Edith herself who started a new life for herself in America.
Donnacha returns back “home” only to face Elenore’s wrath at his deception. He tries threatening her with the fact that he invested $100k into the home and is owed that investment back after he learns there is nothing he can say to sway Elenore. Elenore is frustrated and scared knowing she can’t pay that back and instead works with Karen to unveil all the fraud and bribe deals Donnacha has made in the past to make the wealth he has now. Donnacha’s reputation is in ruins and face plastered over all the newspapers as everything he’s built falls to crumbles. Elenore decides to sell the $100k art piece Donnacha splurged on and invest in Cavendish to finish her dream of creating the perfect homey guesthouse as well as meeting and befriending Edith Cavendish who decided to make one final trip to her family home of Cavendish and become a silent partner in Elenore’s business.
Final Rating & Thoughts: 7/10
Home to Cavendish has a very slow beginning but it does get better! The first few chapters I felt were really heavy with exposition and some of it was very cliche and predictable such as the fact that Donnacha was a douchebag and it is almost frustrating that Elenore doesn’t see right through his crap! However, as you continue to read I feel like Elenore is written in a way that is really sweet and humble and the reader immediately feels almost protective of her and her happiness. By the time I met Leslie her best friend, I could see why she cares so much for Elenore and how Elenore has always been raised in a “perfect” bubble and that’s why she couldn’t see Donnacha’s deception and manipulation for what it was. Donnacha also had the most basic backstory of growing up in an abusive and poor home and that’s why he became the “mean dog” who would do anything for success. While it explains his motivations, I don’t think it was completely necessary because it was already established that he was a selfish man who wants success at any cost.
I felt like the diary entries from 1922 were stagnant (I can only see a 16 year old talk about how bored they are while surrounded by splendor so many times) and didn’t add too much to the story at first, however I LOVED the hunt for the writer of the diary and investigation to find Edith Cavendish. That was the strongest parts of the book because after all the boring diary entries, it just ends so abruptly with no recorded history of Edith Cavendish that a million different scenarios appear in your brain. We expected that she should have run away with her lover but all the signs show us that her lover is more like Donnacha and can’t be trusted. I was actually afraid to find out what happened because I thought maybe she was murdered (Game of Thrones has forever scarred me). However, I loved that her ending was actually that after years of boredom and perfection, she decided that the betrayal of her lover was an opportunity for improvement as she started a new life alone in America. More importantly, I love how when we meet her well into her 90s, we get to learn of her life after Cavendish and how full and rich her life came to be with a loving husband, successful business, and caring children and grandchildren. I think it’s such an optimistic ending because after spending the entire book comparing Elenore to Edith, we can only hope Elenore gets the same ending for herself!
Overall, I would definitely recommend Home to Cavendish to people who are a fan of historical fiction. While this isn’t based exactly on any specific historical person or event, some of the book is set in the Civil War in Ireland. I think it was an interesting perspective since most historical fiction focuses on old America or Europe, so getting to see the charm of Ireland was a nice touch. This was a very light-hearted read that is perfect to take to the beach as you jump into the investigation with Elenore and Sean or fight against Donnacha with Elenore and Karen. I really loved that puzzle element in the background so I can only hope to see more of that in Antoinette’s future novels!