Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: Abigail

Abigail (Stevenson Family Saga - Book 4) by Malcolm Macdonald

Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: historical Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 432pp
ISBN-13: 9781402236112

(Received for review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Malcolm Macdonald on the WEB: Website

Synopsis (Book Blurb):


Daughter of the wealthy and storied Stevenson family, Abigail Stevenson should have been a creature of unawakened innocence. But one fateful day she tricks her maid, Annie, into telling her the facts of life, and soon comes to realize that the same shocking secret can be a glorious and life-enhancing mystery. Thus begins her path of passion and indomitable ambition that will lead her from England to the great capitals of Europe, from the passions of man and woman to those of intellectual, artist, and creator.

A beloved novel by a beloved author, Abigail is a gripping and passionate tale of one woman's struggles to break free of the bonds of her heritage and chart her own path of ambition in the Victorian world.


The final novel in the Stevenson family saga, brings readers the story of Abigail, a young woman who defied the conventions of her time. Master storyteller, Malcolm Macdonald, writer of over thirty books gives the reader excellent research and a riveting plot line to draw them into Abigail's life. Originally published in 1979, Abigail is being re-issued to a new generation of historical fiction readers. Readers will find Abigail's character refreshing and full of spontaneity.

Abigail Stevenson isn't your typical woman of the day. She has always been a bit of a pill for the Stevenson family, though she has mellowed a bit with age. One day Abigail convinces her maid, Annie to give her details on the facts of life. This sets Abigail off on a quest to learn more. She has a voracious appetite for learning about all things, including sex, money and the arts. Abigail's journey to become the woman she wants to be, takes her around the world and puts her in the path of many different walks of life. As she chooses her own path as writer, Abigail faces the scorn of society and her own family, all in the name of progress.

Malcolm Macdonald has been held in high esteem as an historical fiction writer for many years. His books have given readers memorable characters, brought to life through his remarkable research and excellent character development. Abigail is no exception to the rule. The Fourth book in Macdonald's highly acclaimed, Stevenson Family Saga, continues the story of a family poised for greatness. We have seen Abigail from her birth up until her womanhood in the series and now she is in the forefront of the final book.

Abigail has always been what the Stevenson family considered a "ticking time bomb", from her erratic behavior to her very strong political opinions. She has changed little in this book, though she is perhaps a little less likely to throw a tantrum and more focused on her goal in life: being the woman she wants to be regardless of what society believes appropriate. Abigail is a great character, full of spunk and passion. She doesn't do anything half way. It's all or nothing and when she decides to find about the facts of life, as usual she gets her way. I think Macdonald does an excellent job of showing Abigail as a woman who set herself against what was considered normal behavior for a woman during the time. He gives her a very strong personality and the tools she needs to be successful in her quest.

I liked the fact that Malcolm Macdonald chose to make the last book in the series one that kind of tied up loose ends in the family. Completing stories that have been going on throughout the series while still giving the reader an engrossing plot with latest of the Stevenson's to venture out into the world. The Stevenson's have been a really interesting to read about, though in some cases it seems a little hard to believe that every single member of the family was destined for greatness. I think Macdonald showed a lot of versatility with this series. His characters were not all perfect, even if they were extremely privileged. They all seemed to have flaws and faults that made them seem easier to identify with.

I recommend this one to readers of historical fiction and especially to those who are Malcolm Macdonald fans. It is a rather lengthy book, but there are few dull moments in Abigail's story as she tackles everything from the Women's Rights Movement to the streets of Rome. I think readers will find her enchanting, but with a few rough edges. Macdonald's research and ability to write according to the conventions of the time period is excellent. It's a book that readers will find hard to put down.

Abigail is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Malcolm Macdonald is the author of 30 novels, including the bestselling Stevenson family saga, Rose of Nancemellin, and Hell Hath No Fury. He was born in England in 1932, and currently lives in Ireland.

1 comment:

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

wow what a gorgeous cover. thanks for the great review!