In this richly layered debut novel, Cate Campbell introduces the wealthy Benedict family and takes us behind the grand doors of their mansion, Benedict Hall. There, family and servants alike must face the challenges wrought by World War I and the dawn of a new age brimming with scandal, intrigue, and social change.
Seattle in 1920 is a city in flux. Horse-drawn carriages share the cobblestone streets with newfangled motor cars. Modern girls bob their hair and show their ankles, caf s defy Prohibition by serving dainty teacups of whisky to returning vets and the wartime boom is giving way to a depression. Even within the Benedicts’ majestic Queen Anne home, life is changing above and below stairs.
Margot, the Benedicts’ free-spirited daughter, struggles to succeed as a physician despite gender bias and personal turmoil. The household staff, especially longtime butler Abraham Blake, have always tried to protect Margot from her brother Preston’s cruel streak. Yet war has altered Preston too not for the better. And when a chance encounter brings a fellow army officer into the Benedict fold, Preston’s ruthlessness is triggered to new heights.
An engineer at the fledgling Boeing company, Frank Parrish has been wounded body and soul, and in Margot, he senses a kindred spirit. But their burgeoning friendship and Preston’s growing wickedness will have explosive repercussions for everyone at Benedict Hall rich and poor, black and white as Margot dares to follow her own path, no matter the consequences.
Publication Date: June, 2013.
“Intriguing and colorful . . . entertaining novel. Seattle readers will particularly enjoy this historical snapshot of the city, where the plot plays out against a backdrop of the Pike Place Market, the Alexis Hotel, shopping at Frederick & Nelson, and some crucial columns for C.B. Blethen (son of newspaper founder Alden Blethen) in The Seattle Times.”
—Melinda Bargreen, The Seattle Times
“Campbell’s novel captures a wide swath of Seattle in the early 1920s, bringing to life a city struggling with growing pains as well as class and race issues. . . . Campbell provides a strong narrative, incorporating realistic detail ranging from the social to the legislative to the medical . . . a solid tale.”
—Helene Williams, Historical Novels Review
“Frank Parrish is back in the States after voluntarily serving overseas for the King’s Army in the First World War. He is looking for work when he runs into a fellow soldier, Preston Benedict, who promises to help him. Parrish winds up getting entrenched in Benedict’s family life, especially with his sister Margot, a doctor at a time when women were encouraged to be nurses, but not doctors. Benedict Hall alternates the viewpoints of the story between Parrish, Preston Benedict, Margot Benedict, and the Benedict’s African-American butler, Blake. The novel starts out slowly, taking time to introduce each of the characters and establish the background of the story. It feels very much like a show setting the stage and the back cover claims that fans of TV’s Downton Abbey will enjoy it. Once the introductions are done and Campbell focuses on the heart of the tale—Preston’s odd, sadistic nature and its effects on those around him—it truly does become a page-turner. Campbell has a flair for historical fiction, which is not surprising since Campbell is author Louise Marley’s new pseudonym for stories that are pure historical fiction. Benedict Hall will not disappoint fans of the genre. Campbell handles issues of gender and race, as well as family conflict, quite well against the larger backdrop of a country coming of age.
—Jennifer McIntosh, Voya
“As a historian and a Seattle resident, I really enjoyed reading Benedict Hall. The little details really made the book come to life for me, and the plot was engaging and interesting from start to finish. Campbell’s novel is well written, and would appeal to anyone interested in the history of Seattle or the history of medicine. It may also be of interest to fans of Downtown Abbey, covering a similar time period to the later seasons of that show.”
—Dawn Vogel, Mad Scientist Journal
“The novel starts out slowly, taking time to introduce each of the characters and establish the background of the story. It feels very much like a show setting the stage and the back cover claims that fans of TV’s Downton Abbey will enjoy it. Once the introductions are done and Campbell focuses on the heart of the tale—Preston’s odd sadistic nature and its effects on those around him—it truly does become a page-turner. . . Campbell handles issues of gender and race, as well as family conflict quite well against the larger backdrop of a country coming of age.”
—GoddessLibrarian, one of the 100 Best Book Blogs for History Buffs
“Benedict Hall may not be for the faint of heart but those that enjoy an intriguing mystery, brimming with good vs. evil and a hint of romance will love it.”
—Trudy, Once Upon a Romance
“Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy the switch to a Northwestern perspective. . . In the story the author brings out the social issues and the general attitudes of the time. The reader is treated to a full spectrum of human emotions. The characters are interesting and engaging. This story is really well written. Such a great read!”
—Nancy Nelson, Sunriver Books & Music
“This is a debut novel by Cate Campbell and we look for more books from her. It is a captivating read!”
—Andrea Katz, GreatThoughts.com
“Campbell has a way with words that endears you to the characters, to their struggles and to their way of life. There are few authors who can make the reader relate to the characters on such a level. I was amazed at Campbell’s weaving of the plot and I can’t wait to see what happens to these strong characters in her next book. If you like Downton Abbey, but want something a little bit different, then this is the book for you.”–A Girl Lost in a Book
“”Benedict Hall” is an absolutely riveting novel!”–Kayla Posney, Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner
“This is a book “Downton Abbey” fans will love. The attention to historical detail and figures like William Boeing add nice touches to the story. While there is certainly a blossoming romance between Frank and Margot, this book is more than a romance. It’s historical drama, filled with fascinating details about 1920’s America, and what that time period was like for women, African-Americans and war vets.”–Dorothy Sasso, Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, PA
Inspiration and History: