Glamorous Illusions is the first novel in Lisa T. Bergren’s new Grand Tour series. The year is 1913, and Cora Diehl returns from her second year of college to find her father struck down by illness and the crops on the family’s farm failing from drought. It seems unlikely that she will be able to continue her education, and it’s not even certain whether they will be able to hold onto their house and land. Into the midst of this turmoil comes a stranger, Mr. Kensington, with a revelation that will change her life forever.
Cora is stunned to learn that the wealthy copper baron who has arrived at her farm is actually her natural father, and that she was conceived while her mother was a maid in his home. Although a complete stranger to her, he has been keeping track of her through the years and has come now to offer help to her parents and to invite her to join the rest of his children this summer for their European Grand Tour.
Thus begins Cora’s whirlwind adventure, as she is whisked away to the Kensington estate and introduced to her half-siblings, who have only learned of her existence a few days earlier. After being outfitted with an entirely new wardrobe and assigned a maid to help her adjust to her new situation, Cora finds herself on a ship to England as part of a group including her new family as well as their friends, the Morgans, and their paid tour guides, Stuart and his nephew Will.
Glamorous Illusions takes the reader on a journey of cultural discovery against the backdrop of Europe’s historic castles and treasured landmarks while also showing us Cora’s journey to discover who she is and where she belongs. Begren’s writing is fluid and engaging, deftly mixing the subjects of class and status with the interpersonal relationships of the group.
While Cora struggles with these questions of personal identity, she also finds her heart being drawn in almost equal measure to Will, the young tour guide, and Pierre, a charming French nobleman who takes an interest in her. And as much as I enjoyed seeing her find peace within her spirit as she settles into her new identity, I am also looking forward to the next book in this delightful series to find out where her heart will end up.
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- The winners of Up! A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure are #13 Joni and #4 Julie.
5 Minutes for Books Reviewer Trish loves a good story, especially one that can transport her to a different time and place while also touching her heart. You can see more of what she loves at her blog In So Many Words.