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Willow Grove Abbey: An Historical World War II Romance Novel by Mary Christian Payne

‘Willow Grove Abbey ‘is the first novel in the Somerville Trilogy, set in England, and spanning the years from 1935 to 1945.

This fast-paced novel focuses upon the life of the primary character, Lady Sophia Somerville, who begins life as the daughter of the charismatic, but unscrupulous Earl Nigel Somerville, and his wife, the breathtaking, but rage-prone Countess Pamela Somerville. Sophia’s journey of growth begins with her attendance at The Ashwick Park School, followed by her much anticipated debutante season, both of which become watershed moments in her life. Written in the first person, this book is rich in historical detail about the fascinating era in which she lives, and the reader experiences those tumultuous times though Sophia’s eyes.

“Willow Grove Abbey’ is a love story, which faces tremendous obstacles due to Sophia’s parent’s refusal to give their blessing to a marriage between their daughter and the man she adores, physician and RAF Group Captain, Spencer Stanton. It is also the story of her relationship with school mate and dearest friend, Edwina Phillips, which takes the reader from the joyous times of youth in the 1930’s to heartbreaking betrayal. The interaction between these two individuals forms the core of this character-driven book. Lastly, it is the story of a highly esteemed British family, which appears to be the epitome of grace, charm and dignity, when in reality, they are intensely flawed. Sophia struggles with her lifelong need for parental approval versus her emerging values and morals, while long held family secrets emerge and threaten to destroy the Somerville family. She is faced with an untenable decision . . . whether to hold fast to her values and accept permanent estrangement from her family, or continue to be the dependent, young girl her parents have always insisted that she be. As she grows, she is faced with the daunting challenge of attempting to comprehend, forgive, and unconditionally love her profoundly imperfect family.