Habits of the House

Habits of the House - Fay Weldon "Habits of the House" is sure to delight fans of "Downton Abbey" and "Upstairs, Downstairs" (author Fay Weldon was one of the co-writers of the latter).This is the tale of Lord Dilberne's family and, of course, their servants. His Lordship's gambling, tailor bills and the like have run through the family's assets. The South African mine in which he has invested is flooded. There is, of course, only one answer to this problem: his son and heir (the younger of the two adult children; primogeniture is still the law of the land in 1899 London) must find a wealthy heiress to wed or the family's ancestral home and so on will be lost.A good deal of the action is seen through the eyes of the "below-stairs" set: the servants. They all have their ideas about the family's situation. They are particularly appalled when Countess Dilberne decides that the best match for the young Viscount is an American girl whose family grew wealthy by owning a group of slaughterhouses. Money is one thing, but *trade* is something else.There are additional subplots involving the family's solicitor (and his wife's social ambitions), the suffragist daughter, and even the young Viscount's mistress.The book is well-written and well-paced, filled with interesting characters and situations. It's the first book of a trilogy due to be out in 2013, and I look forward to reading the remaining two volumes.(Review based on uncorrected advance proof.)