The Legacy by Katherine Webb

Historical Romance Meets Modern-day Mystery

I’ve got to be real with you, most times when I sit in reflection of a book I read, I am in search of its greatest themes. The underlying messages it tells. I usually build off of that notion and begin my analysis of a story from there. But with this book- this friggin’ book- I just did not even know where to begin.

The Legacy, written by Katherine Webb in 2011, has left me near flabbergasted- and I am not sure if it’s a good or bad thing. I don’t know if I am angry, or disappointed, or haunted, or saddened, or relieved now that my journey through the story has ended.

Webb’s novel follows two storylines. It gives us the chance to explore a modern-day drama mixed with a historical romance mixed with suspense and thrill and all too many missing pieces that needed to be put together.

The general premise follows two sisters who return to their late grandmother’s manor where they spent many summers growing up. After their cousin Henry went missing without a trace, the kids stopped visiting. Now, back and having to explore the home again, one sister, Erica, is instantly taunted with past memories she cannot seem to get in order, knowing the house is the cause of it. But her sister Beth- who was never the same after her cousin’s disappearance- just wants to block it all out and move on from the sour memories of the home.

The second storyline is that of the sisters’ late great-grandmother, Caroline, who the girls remember to be a miserable and distant woman. We follow Caroline back to 1904 where her life goes from New York City grace to Wild West ruggedness and beyond. To be honest, I spent most of the story not too sure what to make of Caroline at all. Part of me wanted to pity and feel for her, and another part of me wanted to curse her out in all the ways I could. I’m not too sure what Webb intended for the audience when writing this character, but by the end, I damn near hated the woman.

I felt at times that Webb’s story was a bit laborious. There was so much jam-packed into the book that I am not too sure were always necessary. It made it have a seemingly slow start, and there were often moments of me asking myself if there was just too much going on.

However, if I could give credit to a sense of mastery here, it was Webb’s ability to drop these subtle yet wildly intriguing hints just when you think things are not moving fast enough. Every time I thought maybe the story was falling a bit flat, she had me scratching my head and reading things back again because I had a feeling they were clues for later- and they were. Sometimes, they were so subtle, I would say you’d miss them if you weren’t paying close enough attention.

Webb also has a way with description that I love and wonder if its why this book was so wordy. I got the impression that setting was a super-key element to her storytelling, and we definitely were not lacking in having a scene set for us. I appreciated her ability to have us enter into two different time periods and never be confused by what we were reading. Plus, the manor is something painted to us so wonderfully in words, its almost impossible to forget the structure- as if we’ve really seen it before.

I do think, however, that though the story could have been told in less time, I am glad I saw it through to the end. It would be favored by those who enjoy historical fiction as well as those who appreciate wordy tales with lots of literary descriptions. Not to mention, I never felt that one storyline was better than the other. Both were able to stand alone yet tied together well throughout.

One thing I know for sure, is that I have not read a book where I loathed a character so much in a while, but Webb really did one in for me with Caroline. I can’t get her out of my head. The selfishness, the betrayal, the cowardness, the self-pity. It was all too much more me, and I really would love to know if anyone else felt the same.

I am curious to see how others portray this story. Give this one a shot and let me know what you think. I wanted to love it, yet parts of me just couldn’t. I liked it. I’m glad I saw it through, but I almost have more questions than I have answers. Was the ending good? Gosh, I don’t even know! But the story was definitely intense at times, especially the one following Caroline. And I did grow to love the two sisters, finding their characters to be relatable.

You can purchase Katherine Webb’s novel The Legacy here.

-Christine Weimer, @beacolorfulyou

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