Book Review: ‘The Forgotten Room’ Is A Praiseworthy Read

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1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

‘The Forgotten Room’ is a telling of the lives and loves of three women. The centerpiece of this saga is a beautiful mansion, owned by the Pratt family, it is renowned for its motif of St. George and the Dragon. Throughout the story, we travel down three time lines.

It is June, 1944, in New York City, and we are introduced to Dr. Kate Schular, she is the only female doctor on the staff of the private Stornaway Hospital, which once was the Pratt Mansion. An ambulance arrives with a badly injured soldier, Captain Cooper Ravenal. As Dr. Schular meets the ambulance, the young man opens his eyes and holds her hand and begs her not to allow them to amputate his leg where she promises to do what she can. The hospital is full to capacity but she offers her small room at the top of the house so she can take care of him. Before he lapses back into unconsciousness, he whispers a name to her, Victorine, and she assumes that he has mistaken her for his wife or girlfriend. And so it begins, there is an immediate connection between them.

We then go back in time to 1892, where we meet Olive van Allen, a servant in the Pratt Mansion. She is very well-spoken and beautiful and is the daughter of the architect who designed and built the mansion. When the mansion is completed, the Pratt family refuses to pay for his services and as a result, he goes bankrupt and commits suicide. His daughter, under an assumed name, is determined to find written proof of the contract so she can clear her father’s name. She steals from her bed and in the dead of night, goes to Mr. Pratt’s study and comes face to face with Harry Pratt, a beautiful young artist who cannot take his eyes off her. He grasps her hands, draws her into the little room at the top of the stairs and then whispers to her, “I need you.”

July, 1920, we meet Lucy Young, an educated and trained secretary who works for a law firm that is responsible for the Pratt Estate, She is in the process of getting a room in the newly-altered Pratt Mansion, which has been transformed into a respectable boarding house for working ladies. She is taken by the junior in the law firm, Philip Schular, handsome, debonair, and charming. When he insists she take a client to dinner because he is busy, she meets a Mr. John Ravenal, an art dealer from South Carolina who is tall, handsome, and muscular. Now the stage is set.

The timelines are a nuisance at times and I don’t particularly care for novels that make me work so hard, I enjoy reading and I am to have my novels plain and straightforward. But I must confess, the authors have done a great job here and I really loved this book. Definitely a keeper and highly recommended.

Available in bookstores now


Ann McDonald

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