‘Bea treads carefully on the thick carpet, quite deliberately like a servant. Her elder sister, Clemmie, tells her that it is “not done” to worry about being heard but Bea enjoys this oh-so-silent rebellion against convention. She teases back, “This is the twentieth century, Clem, things are about to change.”‘
London, 1914. Two young women dream of breaking free from tradition and obligation; they know that suffragettes are on the march and that war looms, but at 35 Park Lane, Lady Masters, head of a dying industrial dynasty, insists that life is about service and duty.
Below stairs, housemaid Grace Campbell is struggling. Her family in Carlisle believes she is a high earning secretary, but she has barely managed to get work in service – something she keeps even from her adored brother. Asked to send home more money than she earns, Grace is in trouble.
As third housemaid she waits on Miss Beatrice, the youngest daughter of the house, who, fatigued with the social season, is increasingly drawn into Mrs Pankhurst’s captivating underground world of militant suffragettes. Soon Bea is playing a dangerous game that will throw her in the path of a man her mother wouldn’t let through the front door.
Then war comes and it is not just their secrets – now on a collision course – that will change their lives for good.
Brilliantly capturing a deeply fascinating period of British life in which the normal boundaries of behaviour were overturned and the social hierarchy could no longer be taken for granted, Park Lane is as gripping and intense as Frances Osborne’s number one bestselling The Bolter.