I’ve also got a review for you today…..Of Breeding and Birth by Rita Baker is a compelling novel that will bring out a range of emotions!
Young Archie Bingham, the son of Sir Archibald Bingham, an eminent British barrister, discovers that his father is keeping a mistress and he’s horrified. Bingham’s life soon becomes motivated by a passion for revenge against his father, which leads to his own downfall. His destructive behavior necessitates him emigrating from England, where he practiced law, to America. There, in time, he becomes a New York Assistant District Attorney.
When Bingham tries to blackmail Joseph Bocacci, a businessman with past ties to the mob, Bocacci enlists his adopted grandson, Frankie Leeman, an American lawyer, to investigate him. Leeman travels to London where he learns about Bingham’s catastrophic time at Cambridge University, his shocking behavior as an articled clerk, rumors of gambling and embezzlement, and his connection to the unsolved murder of an underage, pregnant, waitress. During the investigation, Leeman explores London and he’s introduced to a painter named Cynthia. Leeman suspects his heart will eventually be broken, but he enters into a torrid love affair with Cynthia and they visit Italy. There, Leeman comes to learn about his own mysterious roots, and Joseph Bocacci’s connection to the murder of his parents. Leeman uncovers a series of seductions, betrayals, and lies that culminate in a shocking conclusion.
In the beginning we meet young Archie in 1975, a boy who looks up to his high-powered and well-known Father; a Barrister in London. Although he is tough on him, he idolises him….until one day he finds out that all along he has had a mistress…….and it destroys him. The realisation that his Father isn’t what he thought, sets him on a downward spiral……..
The story then moves on to 1998 when we meet Frankie Leeman. He’s Grandfather is the head of the family with links to the mob. Archie Bingham has tried to blackmail one of the family, and Frankie is tasked with finding out as much about Archie’s past as he can so they can stop Joe from ending up in prison for something he didn’t do. Frankie meets lots of associates of Archie and finds out many incriminating facts…..but will it be enough to stop him? While he’s in London he also meets Cynthia and they both fall completely in love…..but is it meant to be?
Part three of the book, and we’re back with Archie….this time we learn from his point of view, about all the things that Frankie has learnt and its eye opening!! And the endings for both Frankie and Archie…..well you’ll have to read to find out!
I thoroughly enjoyed this. It has elements of love, passion, loss, family secrets, heartbreak, love that can’t be, betrayal, corruption, blackmail and hate……how can you not enjoy that?! Each chapter you find out something new about one of the characters and it will have you wanting more.
I absolutely love Frankie….and seeing his and Cynthia’s relationship just made my heart ache! He’s such a family man and I’m glad things turn out the way they do for him – if anyone deserves the results of the family secrets he uncovers, it’s him. Archie – on the other hand – is a different matter. You start off feeling sorry for him, but then he just turns into this appalling human being. Although you do find out more later in the book, and it helps to see why he’s the way he is, but it definitely doesn’t excuse some of his behaviour! The supporting cast – Archie’s Mother and Father, Frankie’s family and, of course, Cynthia are all fantastic and will each make you feel something different.
The author does a wonderful job of describing the scenes so you feel like you’re there with the characters. When Frankie visits Italy, I felt like I could see it all!
The one thing I would say, is that the characters dialogue appears quite old fashioned Although we’re with Frankie in 1998 I felt like we were actually back in maybe the 40’s with him (what I imagine the 40’s to be like!). BUT it might be because the characters are from a much more privileged background than I am! I loved it though and it really added to the story.
Overall, this is a brilliant book. It’s different and thought provoking and for me, made me think about how those who may be more privileged, may live….but it also makes it clear that although they may be well off, they certainly have their own troubles – sometimes a lot bigger than general folk may experience!! This is definitely a book to be picking up if you want to read something a little different, with lots of things to keep you interested and your emotions on a rollercoaster!
A massive thanks to Rita Baker and to the publisher, Adelaide Books for providing me with a paperback copy of the book in return for an honest review. All views are my own and are unbiased.
If you’ve read this, or plan on reading it then give me a shout. I’d love to know what you think too!