The Testament of Rebecca Reid – Jo’s Book Blog

The Mordaunts are not like most families…

For one, his family home is Roxborough Hall, a magnificent century-old mansion in the Norfolk countryside. On the other hand, the house is not transmitted from parents to children, but to the member of the family who is considered most valuable.

Cecilia Mordaunt is dead. On the night of her funeral, her family will gather for dinner and each will receive a letter, revealing who the next custodian of Roxborough Hall is.

The house is a burden, a millstone, a full-time job… but everyone wants it. And some are willing to do anything to get it.

A family. Eight letters. Who will get what they deserve?

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Rebecca Reid’s latest novel, The will. I absolutely adored The truth hurtsand I took the opportunity to read your latest offer before publication.

The will introduces the reader to the Mordaunt family and their ancestral home, Roxborough Hall, in Norfolk. Instead of passing the house to the eldest (male) heir, they have a fairer but unnecessarily elaborate system of passing the house to whoever is deemed more worthy. Before his death, the current owner writes letters to the possible heirs of the house detailing why the property has or has not been left to them. These letters are then distributed at a dinner on the day of the previous owner’s funeral. Why can’t they just leave the house in their will with the rest of their possessions? must receive it, and what an upset it will cause when the recipient is finally revealed. And it does seem like the kind of arbitrary ritual that wealthy families might go for.

And the Mordaunts are rich. They are not aristocracy but they are not “new money” either, sitting comfortably somewhere between the two. While you might think their lives are blessed as a result, this is a quickly revealed family that has many secrets and problems, all of which are slowly and gloriously revealed to the reader as the novel progresses. There is jealousy and rivalry to undo along with more than a little bit of resentment and bad feelings, and I think this is as dysfunctional as families can get. I’ll be honest: if this is how the other half lives, I could read about them all day.

With the passing of the current owner, Cecily, the Mordaunts gather at Roxborough Hall for the funeral and ceremony to reveal the new owner. Of course, this would be a novella if all went according to plan, and Reid plays with both the characters and the reader, plausibly drawing out the reveal of who will be the new owner of the house. It’s brilliantly done as the family begins to suspect each other of foul play and some wonder how they can manipulate events and turn the situation to their advantage. There is a question of how far these people will go to get the house that everyone seems to think should be theirs…

Throughout the novel we meet the whole family, including Cecily, through characters who remember her mother/grandmother, as well as through flashbacks that reveal more of the family’s history and begin to reveal the many secrets that the reader will discover. . There’s a fairly large cast of characters to go up against, though there’s little risk of confusing them – they all have their idiosyncrasies, which makes it easier to remember who’s who. When I met them, I realized that I didn’t like any of them. They all seem proper and pampered, and while some have redeeming features, these didn’t balance out the negatives for me. If you need someone to support in a novel, this might not be the one for you, though it didn’t stop me from enjoying the way the drama unfolded.

I think Reid has written The will with an element of black humor and maybe have a little comment about those who are “born in the mansion”. At the same time, it tackles some more serious topics throughout its pages (which I won’t reveal here because there are some potential spoilers), and it doesn’t mince words in doing so. That’s not to say he’s gratuitous in representing these issues, but Reid doesn’t sugarcoat them either. I think the novel also highlights the harm that people can do to those closest to them, even when they have the best of intentions.

The will is a riveting family drama that reads like a thriller/whodunit with its ups and downs and the gradual revealing of all the secrets, lies and betrayals that Roxborough Hall has witnessed. I thoroughly enjoyed unraveling the secrets of this affluent but ultimately dysfunctional family, and highly recommend it for those who enjoy a family drama.

The will is published by Penguin and is available now as an ebook with the paperback and audiobook due out tomorrow, November 10. Many thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and the publisher for my copy of the novel and the opportunity to participate in the blog tour.

Disclaimer – I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced my review in any way.

About the Author

rebeca reid he is the author of the novels perfect liars, The truth hurts Y two mistakesand the non-fiction book The power of rudeness. She is a freelance journalist and columnist for the women’s section of the Telegraph and a regular contributor to Telegraph culture. She is the former digital editor of Grazia magazine and has previously written for Stylist, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times, Marie Claire, New Statesman and Glamor Magazine. She regularly contributes to Good Morning Britain, Sky News and various BBC radio programmes. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from Royal Holloway.

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