Lady Ava Averly has finally returned to England, after spending 10 years abroad with her family in India. England is a lot different from what she remembers. As her father remarries, Ava has to figure out a place for herself in her new family at Somerton, their family estate.
After falling in love with Ravi, an Indian revolutionary, Ava struggles to choose between her family’s good name and her desire for independence. She longs to attend Oxford, and get an education, but all her father and stepmother can think of is her upcoming Season. Ada tries to please her new stepmother, but it seems like she has her own plans…
Rose is Ava’s maid, a young girl who aspires to be a musician, but cannot rise above her station to do so. When she finds out about Lady Ava’s affair with Ravi, she does everything in her power to help her.
As Ada and Rose try to adjust to their lives at Somerton, they discover that things aren’t exactly as they seem.
When I first heard about Cinders and Sapphires, I knew that it was supposed to be like Downtown Abbey, but for teens. Considering the fact that I absolutely love Downtown Abbey, I was pretty excited about this book, but I was severely disappointed. But let’s start with the good stuff first…
Rasheed’s writing was clear, and described the setting nicely. The book takes place at the turn of the century, so there’s a nice flavour of change and fear of the unknown that’s woven in. Ada longs to go to Oxford and study there, but she struggles because of her family. I appreciated her struggles, since they made her a more interesting character.
The plot revolves around both the ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ part of Somerton (basically the privileged and their staff), and I enjoyed the fact that the story bounced around between both levels. I didn’t get bored with one person’s story, since the story did a nice job of switching things up without confusing the reader.
With that being said, it was a bit like Gossip Girl, rather than Downtown. It had the elements of Downtown there, like bouncing between the lives of the rich and their staff, but the way it did so was superficial and very gossipy. There always seemed to be a threat of a scandal on the horizon, and apparently everyone is hiding something, from the lady’s maid to the valet to the Lord of the estate. It was all very silly.
I wish I could say I had a favourite character among this ensemble of characters, but unfortunately, they were all so flat and fake. None of them had any depth or complexity to them, and I felt like I’d read about them and their lives before. There was nothing new or exciting about them, so that even though the plot wasn’t completely boring, their reactions to events were completely predictable.
There were a few romantic threads throughout the story, but again, they lacked any real conviction. Ada and Ravi’s affair was supposed to be filled with passion, since it’s a forbidden one, but again, it lacked any real emotions or depth.
All in all, Cinders and Sapphires isn’t a boring book or even a bad book. It just isn’t very original or compelling.
So for that: 2.5/5.
Thanks for reading,