Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Cavendon Hall

Go To

Cavendon Hall is a 2014 novel set in England in The Edwardian Era, featuring two families: the Inghams and the Swanns. It mainly focuses on the two middle Ingham daughters, Daphne and DeLacy, and the only Swann daughter Cecily. The plot really takes off about 50 pages in when something terrible happens to Daphne.

In 2015, Cavendon Hall had a sequel published, called The Cavendon Women. A second sequel, The Cavendon Luck, was released in 2016, and a fourth book, Secrets of Cavendon in 2017.



  • 100% Adoration Rating: the Inghams, especially the father. The father, Charles, is clearly beloved by everyone in all of his villages, to the point where the staff have no idea who could have raped Daphne and set the stable on fire. Dulcie and Daphne also seem to be particularly loved by at least the rest of the family and the staff, though it's hard to tell how far that extends beyond the family.
  • Acceptable Feminine Goals and Traits: DeLacy, Dulcie, and Cecily all wind up with careers in the arts.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Charlotte and Charles call each other Charlie.
    • Cecily is often nicknamed Ceci.
    • DeLacy is sometimes called Lacy.
    • Guy calls Diedre Didi.
    • Charlotte calls Vanessa Van.
    • Vanessa calls Charlotte Char.
    • Everyone close to her calls Daphne Daphers, although Diedre starts off calling her that sarcastically.
    • Constance and Felix both call James Brentwood "Jamie."
    • Advertisement:
    • Elise Steinbrenner calls her best friend, Victoria Brown, “Vicki," and other people soon adopt the moniker for her as well.
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: At first with Daphne. Her original fears include finding a handsome, nice boy to marry after her debutante ball. While the date does have to be moved up, she does eventually find a nice, handsome boy to marry.
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Both Dulcie and Daphne seem to truly enjoy riding horses, although Dulcie, being five years old in the first book, is only allowed to ride a pony.]
  • Alliterative Family:
    • All the female Ingham children have names beginning with D, possibly after Charles' father, David: Diedre, Daphne, DeLacy, and Dulcie.
    • Three of Daphne's five children have names beginning with A: Alicia, Andrew, and Annabel.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Both Guy and Diedre, the two oldest Ingham children, do not appear until well over 50 pages into the book, and remain minor characters throughout; both are also absent for the last third of the book. However, through a hefty dose of Character Development, Diedre evolves into a Cool Big Sis by the time of The Cavendon Women.
  • Altar the Speed:
    • Hugo and Daphne get married within a month of their engagement appearing in the local papers because of Daphne's pregnancy.
    • Diedre also winds up rushing her wedding with Paul Drummond for the same reasons, twelve years later.
    • Dulcie also rushes her engagement with James, for no other reason than she can't imagine waiting any longer to be lose her virginity (James refuses to sleep with her until they are married, as she is the first virgin he has dated in his adult life).
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Adam Fennell has random bursts of anger that he can't control, and he has no emotions, positive or negative, about murdering Charlotte in cold blood. Then again, this is the 1940s/1950s, so it's unlikely he could have been officially diagnosed with anything yet.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Dulcie, at least in the opinion of Diedre. While none of the others seem to find her annoying, her behavior does raise some eyebrows, especially as she escapes from her nanny no less than 5 times. However, Dulcie matures rapidly under her new nanny, who treats her as a grown-up.
  • Anything That Moves: One interpretation for Richard Torbett, if he was willing to go after a six-year-old.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Charlie Stanton loses most of one leg after being rescued at Dunkirk. By the time five years have passed, he’s used to the prosthetic leg he wears well enough that most people think he just has a slight limp.
  • Apron Matron: Nell Jackson, the original cook.
  • The Artful Dodger: Genevra, the gypsy girl who lives on the grounds. She is, however, slightly older than most examples of this trope, being 14 years old (stated retroactively) during the summer that most of the first book's events take place.
  • Attention Whore: Possibly with Diedre. She questions basically if her sister's wedding was a shotgun wedding after seeing her niece for the first time and even says that they shouldn't be making such a fuss over "just a baby". However, she grows out of this by the time of The Cavendon Women.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Dulcie is considerably younger than most of her siblings, with an age difference ranging from 7-17 years. Her husband, James Brentwood, also qualifies, having five significantly-older siblings.
  • Beleaguered Childhood Friend: Possibly Julian with regards to Daphne.
  • Beautiful All Along: Daphne discovers this early on in the book; in a twist, she is always told that she is quite beautiful, but she does not believe so.
  • The Beautiful Elite: All of the Inghams, except for Diedre, are described as either handsome or beautiful, especially Charles, Daphne, and Dulcie, who "has the face of a Boticelli angel".
  • Berserk Button: Hurting any of the Ingham girls is a major one for Hugo, who almost murders the man who raped Daphne and tried to hurt Dulcie and several female servants.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Daphne feels this to both DeLacy and Dulcie. She comforts DeLacy after DeLacy accidentally spills ink on her ballgown and then talks Dulcie down from a temper tantrum. She also takes care of Dulcie when they fire her nanny and even helps find a new nanny for her.
  • Birds of a Feather: James Brentwood and Dulcie are both the youngest in their family, with 5 older siblings each, and were primarily raised by one of their older sisters after their mother died (in James' case) or left the family (in Dulcie's).
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Diedre. However, she's also the plain one in the family, so it at least sort of makes sense. This is also something she outgrows by the time of the sequel.
  • Black Sheep: Both Felicity and Lavinia eventually become this in regard to the Ingham family, although Lavinia is forgiven when it's discovered she has cancer.
  • A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: The Ingham family has 2 boys (Guy and Miles), 2 girls (Diedre and Daphne), and 2 babies (DeLacy and Dulcie). Though DeLacy, who is 12, could be considered one of the "girls", as she is only two years younger than the youngest boy. Dulcie, meanwhile, is five years old.
  • Boyish Short Hair: DeLacy, Diedre, and Charlotte in the second book, all of whom have cut their hair into short, '20s-style bobs.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Dulcie, though she is only 5 years old for the majority of the first book and has matured significantly by the time of the first sequel.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Diedre who is twenty and so no longer a teenager. While her brattiness is somewhat less than Dulcie's, it's especially evident after Daphne's wedding, even moreso after Alicia is born. This is something she eventually outgrows.
  • Break the Cutie: The entire first book is this for Daphne, while the interval between the first and second, as well as extending well into the second book, is this for DeLacy.
  • Broken Ace: Daphne. She is the most beautiful of the Ingham children and seems to have everything going for her at the beginning of the book. The same cannot be said for her in the middle of the book, but she returns to her former status by the end of the book.
  • The Bus Came Back: Happens to both Richard Torbett (in the World War I chapters) and to Felicity Ingham (at Miles's engagement party). Also happens to several other characters throughout the book, as the book covers a five-year period where not everybody is present. For example, both Miles and Guy are students at Eton and Oxford, respectively, and so keep going to and from school throughout the book.
  • Bus Crash:
    • Guy appears for a bit in the middle of the book, then leaves to go fight in the war. He is never seen or heard from again; it is just said that he's Missing in Action. It is only in the last few chapters that it is revealed that he was killed at Verdun.
    • This also happens to several failed love interests throughout the series, including Miles' wife Clarissa, Harry's ex-girlfriend Patricia, and several of DeLacy's ex-boyfriends.
  • Camp Straight: Apparently, Julian. He is frequently described as the most effeminate and "wishy-washy" of the Torbett boys, but he is also engaged to a pretty girl when he first appears. This is why everyone is surprised that he is Daphne's apparent rapist.
  • Child by Rape:Alicia, though she is being raised as Hugo's daughter.
  • Child Prodigy:
    • Cecily is able to design - more like "engineer" - clothes at the age of 12 that her mother can barely make, and she is specifically called a child prodigy in the book.
    • Howard Pinkerton, one of Lady Gwendolyn's friends at the Scotland Yard, had the entire history of the Scotland Yard memorized at the age of ten.
  • Childhood Friend Romance:
    • Between Miles and Cecily. By the end of the sequel, it can be classified as Victorious.
    • The same thing happens with Charles and Charlotte, at the end of the first book.
  • Cool Aunt: The Ingham children vastly prefer their aunt Vanessa to their aunt Lavinia.
  • Cool Big Sis: Daphne is this with regards to DeLacy and Dulcie, and possibly to Miles as well, especially in comparison to Diedre and Guy, who are rarely available. However, Diedre has evolved into this, at least for Daphne and, later, Dulcie, by the end of The Cavendon Women.
  • Cool Old Lady: The Ingham children's Great-Aunt Gwendolyn, by all accounts, appears to be this and even manages to live to the age of ninety-nine, dying shortly before her desired hundredth birthday.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: DeLacy. In one of her first scenes, she ruins one of Daphne's ballgowns by knocking into an inkpot. She's not seen very much after that, so it's hard to tell if she grows out of this or not.
  • Daddy's Girl: All of the girls, except Diedre. The youngest two barely seem to care when their mother leaves the family. However, all of the children, except Diedre, seem to be much closer to their father than to their mother, to the point that by the time of the sequel, most of them don't even call her "Mama," as they did in the first book, but by her first name, while they all still call their father "Papa.”
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Both Victoria Brown and Adam Fennell had very sad childhoods.
  • Death In The Limelight: In a rare example for this series, Lady Gwendolyn. Both the characters who are murdered, Travers Merton and Charlotte Swann-Ingham also have their deaths "on-screen."
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Cecily has basically been freezing Miles and DeLacy out for the past six years by the time of The Cavendon Women, but once she realizes she's still in love with Miles, she becomes friends with DeLacy again.
  • Demoted to Extra: Both of the younger Ingham daughters, DeLacy and Dulcie, go from prominent characters in the second book to not even present for the first half of the third book and dying at the end for DeLacy. All the remaining Ingham girls are sidelined in the fourth book.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Miles' fiancee/wife in the sequel, who is killed off-screen in the last few pages to make room for Miles to marry Cecily, who is pregnant with his child.
  • The Ditz: DeLacy. She literally has no clue why Cecily would be upset to know that Miles was going to marry someone else.
  • Domestic Abuse: Diedre's friend Laura Upton and little sister DeLacy both suffer from this in between books 1 and 2, to the point of Marital Rape License.
    • The second book also reveals this to be the case between Felicity and her second husband, Lawrence Pierce.
  • Doting Parent: Charles is very doting on Dulcie and Daphne in particular, though this sort of applies to all four of his daughters. For example, he buys Dulcie a new pony just because she asked for one, and cannot stay angry with her for any length of time. He is also very doting towards Daphne, being very loving and caring towards her after her rape and not forcing her to marry.
  • Dumb Blond: DeLacy. Again, the girl has literally no clue. She even says that Cecily could never marry Miles because of the class difference. True, but she could have found a nicer way to say it. Oh, and this is when she's nineteen, so she really should have more of a clue.
  • Entitled to Have You: Lawrence Pierce's primary attitude towards his stepdaughter DeLacy.
  • Generation Xerox: Cecily takes after her great-aunt Charlotte in her dedication to the Inghams reaching the point of marrying one of them.
  • The Ghost: While Felicity's sister Anne never appears, and later Dies Off Screen, she still plays a fairly major part in the plot. Her failing health is one of the reasons Daphne gives for pushing up the date of her wedding.
  • Good Parents: Charles Ingham and both of the Swann parents are very supportive of all of their own and each other's children. Charles in particular spoils all of his daughters and seems affectionate with all six children. Not so much for Felicity Ingham, who leaves the family at a very hard part in their children's lives, only to reappear randomly at her surviving son's engagement party.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Diedre in regards to all of her sisters, being not as pretty as even the youngest, Dulcie. Possibly also Richard's motivation for raping Daphne, as he may have wanted her for himself but knew that her father would not approve.
  • Happily Adopted:
    • Lady Gwendolyn's daughter, Margaret.
    • Victoria Brown is adopted by Alice and Walter Swann after the war ends, though she refers to them as an aunt and uncle, since she’s a teenager, or nearly so, by that point.
  • Happily Married: Daphne and Hugo. Also, Charlotte Swann and Charles Ingham become this in book 2, with Cecily and Miles following in between books 2 and 3.
  • He Is All Grown Up: Happens to Miles, DeLacy, and Cecily at the end of the book, and also happens to Dulcie in the sequel. All the others age up, too, but it's not as noticeable for them. Happens to the entire next generation by the time of book 4, by which point all of them are grown adults and starting to create families of their own.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: All of the Inghams have inherited their father's pale blue eyes, and (to the distress of their great-aunt) like to match their dresses to their eyes.
  • Killed Offscreen: Most characters that die in this series are only revealed to have died after the fact, frequently in dialogue between members of the Ingham family. Even Charles Ingham is only revealed to have died two years after the fact.
  • Kissing Cousins: Daphne Ingham and Hugo Stanton are second-cousins (Hugo and Daphne's father Charles are first-cousins), and as of the end of the sequel, Miles and Cecily are step-cousins through Charlotte and Charles' marriage.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: The two girls that have the longest hair in the second book, Daphne and Dulcie, are also the most feminine of the four sisters.
  • Love at First Sight:
    • What Hugo feels for Daphne.
    • James Brentwood and Daphne feel this way immediately about each other.
    • Victoria Brown and Christopher Longdon feel this way as well.
  • Love Father, Love Son
    • Several decades after the death of Charles' father David, his mistress Charlotte winds up falling in love with Charles.
    • Felicity's second husband, Lawrence Pierce, lusts after his stepdaughter DeLacy.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Adam Fennell is absolutely obsessed with the idea of marrying into the aristocracy and is willing to do some extremely shady things to accomplish this, including essentially stalking Alicia for several years before ever actually meeting her.
  • May–December Romance: Each of the Dees whose husband's age is known is married to a man fifteen years older than she.
  • Middle Child Syndrome:
    • Poor Diedre. Though she is the second-oldest, she clearly holds some grudges over her younger siblings, especially her three younger sisters. This is most evident with Daphne, who is only three years younger and yet is very much The Ace of the family at first.
    • DeLacy, the second-youngest of the family, also has a very rough period after book 1, culminating in her being the only one of her living siblings not in a relationship at the end of book 2 and dying at the end of book 3.
    • Not so much for Daphne or Miles, the true middle children of the family.
    • In the second book, Daphne and Hugo's third and fourth children, Thomas and Andrew, are only seen, very briefly, at Dulcie's wedding, compared to the two scenes that every one of their siblings gets; in the sequel, they only get a single scene, while their older brother Charlie narrates multiple chapters and even Alicia and Annabel appear at least twice. In the fourth book, they aren’t even mentioned for the first 2/3 of the book and receive much less attention in the narrative than any of their siblings, including their little sister Annabel, who had similarly been unmentioned until that point. They seem to mostly be there to make Genevra’s prophecy about Cecily having 5 children true.
  • Missing Mom: Felicity leaves the family after the youngest, Dulcie, is almost kidnapped, and only returns briefly, years later, for Miles' engagement party.
  • Momma's Boy: Diedre's son, Robin, because of his father's death, is very close to and protective of his mother.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: While Lawrence Pierce may be a perfectly legitimate surgeon, he also uses his skills to murder people.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Felicity seems to look pretty young to be a mother of a 22-year-old at the beginning of the book.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Lawrence Pierce's "solution" to DeLacy's relationship with Travers Merton.
  • Neat Freak: As a result of his abusive childhood, Adam Fennell cannot stand even a speck of dust in his home.
  • Oblivious Adoption: Alicia has no idea she's not Hugo's biological daughter. She finds out when she is in her thirties, though.
  • Overly Long Name: Both of Daphne's children have at least two middle names: Alicia Felicity Gwendolyn Charlotte Ingham Stanton and Charles Hugo Ian Ingham Stanton, and this presumably will also happen to the third through fifth children, although their middle names are never revealed.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. Three characters have the nickname "Charlie": Charles Ingham, Charlotte Swann, and Charles Stanton, Daphne's son named after her father.
  • Parental Favoritism:
    • Both Daphne and Dulcie are clearly well-loved by both the family and the staff. It is possibly this reason why Diedre seems to dislike them both so much.
    • Daphne noticeably favors her oldest son, Charlie, possibly because he is her first child with Hugo and probably because she worries over his future prospects, being a disabled veteran.
    • Cecily's "wartime baby", her younger daughter, Gwen, seems to be her favorite, possibly because she is the youngest in the family, and Cecily had her after previously having suffered a miscarriage and believed she would be unable to conceive again. She is also named after a beloved great-aunt who died shortly after her birth.
  • Parental Neglect: Happens to Hugo when his mother blames him for his brother's death and sends him off to America. Felicity also abandons all of her children when she leaves the family, to the point where twelve years later, none of them call her "Mama," but by her first name.
  • Practically Different Generations: There is enough of an age difference between Victoria and her (adopted) older siblings that Cecily has children nearly the same age as her, and Victoria calls her brother and sister Uncle Harry and Aunt Cecily
  • Precision F-Strike: The only uses of the word "fuck" in the first three books is during the World War I trench section of the first book. In book 4, Adam calls Alicia a “fucking bitch” when she breaks off his engagement.
  • Promotion to Parent:
    • Anne essentially functions as Felicity's mother when they were growing up, although it is never stated what happened to their parents, if anything.
    • After Felicity runs away from Cavendon Hall, Daphne essentially functions as a mother to little Dulcie.
    • After his mother died, James Brentwood was raised primarily by his oldest sister.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Travers Merton.
  • Rape as Drama: Poor Daphne gets raped approximately 50 pages into the first novel, setting off most of the later plot.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Harry's girlfriend, Paloma Glendenning.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: While not full royals, the Inghams are all related to the earl, Charles, and so do have some aristocratic standing. The oldest male, Guy, goes to fight in World War I, and the only thing that stops his father and his younger brother are their poor eyesight. All three of Daphne's sons later fight in World War II, and her older daughter works with the Red Cross during that same period.
  • Second Love:
    • Both Charles and Charlotte are this to each other; Charles' first love was the mother of his six children, Felicity, while Charlotte's was actually Charles' father, David.
    • Diedre and her new husband, William, in the third book are both each other's second spouses; Diedre lost her first husband, Paul, six years before, while William's first wife had died fifteen years before. However, while Diedre had genuinely loved Paul, William's first marriage was significantly less happy.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Diedre, DeLacy, Cecily's nickname Ceci, Hugo's mother Evelyne, and Hugo and Daphne's younger daughter Annabel.
  • Stalker with a Crush: What Adam Fennell ultimately starts out as with regards to Alicia, though they do wind up in a romantic and sexual relationship.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Daphne becomes pregnant at 17 and gives birth at 18. Possibly gives birth to her second child before age 20, but is definitely pregnant with him at 19.
  • Those Two Girls: Mary and Elsie, the two maids, are almost always on-screen at the same time, with little to differentiate their personalities.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: For a while near the likely end of her life, Daphne becomes much more snappish and unlike herself, taking out her frustrations on her normally-beloved sister-in-law, Cecily. However, the two quickly make up when Daphne returns to Cavendon Hall and apologizes, stating that she wishes to be allowed to die peacefully at Cavendon.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Diedre does this in the sequel.
  • True Blue Femininity: All the Ingham girls wear a lot of blue, to match their eyes.
  • Undying Loyalty: The Swanns and the Inghams are incredibly, deeply loyal to each other, and have been for the last 150 years +.
  • The Unfavorite:
    • Diedre seems to be the least-liked of her siblings, especially seeing as she didn't even seem to have a coming-out ball, as she is still living at home and single at the age of 20, whereas her seventeen-year-old younger sister Daphne is going to have her ball within a year at the beginning of the book.
    • While we never see them together, the fact that Evelyne was content to allow her younger son to be shipped off to another continent suggests that she much preferred her older son, Peter.
  • Vague Age: Genevra, the gypsy girl, though she appears to be older than DeLacy and Cecily, but younger than Daphne. (She has to bend down to be on the same level as Cecily, but everyone still calls her a girl.) However, this is subverted in the sequel, where she explicitly reveals herself to be twenty-seven (the same age as Miles at the time), meaning that she was fourteen during most of the first book.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Miles winds up getting together with Cecily in the sequel, as do Charles and Charlotte, who were also childhood friends.
  • Wham Line: The Reveal that Daphne is dying of cancer and has only six months to live at the end of book.
  • White Sheep: Apparently, Julian is this in the Torbett family. He is the only one who grows up to be neither an alcoholic nor a perverted rapist. Unfortunately, he is also the first Torbett to die.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: