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Chloe: The Women of Ivy Manor    by Lyn Cote order for
by Lyn Cote
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

Chloe Lorraine Kimball is a blonde, blue-eyed beauty, born and raised on the estate of Ivy Manor at the beginning of the 20th century. Her father is a rough-edged, abrasive politician who uses Chloe to promote himself during his campaign despite the fact that Chloe feels uncomfortable being put on a pedestal before the public. Chloe's mother is a typical upper-class, privileged lady typical of the era, except for the fact that she is a bit of a drinker. Chloe's parents do not have a loving, happy marriage, which leads to an unhappy household. Chloe pines for a day when she might leave Ivy Manor to pursue happiness elsewhere.

Chloe gets her chance when she is introduced to Theran Black by her friend Kitty. Theran and Chloe feel an instant attraction, and Theran wants to marry Chloe before he leaves a few weeks later for the war. With the help of Kitty's brother, Roarke, Chloe secretly leaves Ivy Manor for New York to marry Theran. Once married, Chloe is on her own as Theran heads off to war. The Roaring Twenties bohemian New York City presents a totally different lifestyle than Chloe was accustomed to at Ivy Manor. Fortunately, luck (combined with Chloe's striking looks) enables her to support herself and make her way in the world. Over several years of marriage, a career and motherhood, happiness still eludes Chloe. An eventual reunion with family and friends, and the impact of the Great Depression, leave her wondering if she is capable of giving and receiving love, and whether she will ever be able to find happiness.

This is the first installment in Lyn Cote's Women of Ivy Manor series. Set in the U.S., it spans four generations of 20th century women. Chloe is a likeable, heartwarming character. It was interesting reading how she began her life as a sheltered girl at Ivy Manor and transformed herself into a sophisticated, yet melancholy, woman. Secondary characters are also interesting, as family bonds in the Kimball family change, as do Chloe's friendships and relationships with others. I enjoyed Lyn Cote's straightforward writing style and her solid development of Chloe's character. I am interested to see where Chloe's life leads her and to read more in the series. I recommend Chloe to fans of family sagas and historical fiction.

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