Erica and Beth Calcott have inherited Storton Manor, a big house in the English countryside, after the death of their grandmother Meredith, provided they decide to live in it. But when they were children, a tragedy occurred in this place where they used to spend long happy summers: their cousin Henry, 11, disappeared and was never seen again. Beth is the more haunted by the disappearance, probably because she is the eldest and was 12 when it happened: as a result she has been depressed for years, and risks losing the custody of her son Eddie. Erica is sure that her sister knows something about what happened that day and is determined to convince Beth to confront the past so that she can finally put it behind…

But it is another mystery that also takes Erica’s interest: while sorting through her grandmother’s stuff, she finds a photograph of Caroline, her great-grandmother, who lived to be more than a hundred and died when she was small. On the photograph, a young Caroline is holding a baby. The photo is dated 1904 and Caroline was not married before 1905. Erica wonders who this baby could be…

The narration switches between the present and the past. The present is a first-person account  of the two sisters’s Christmas vacations in Storton Manor, with one trying to recall while the other strives to forget the day in their childhood that changed everything. The past tells, in the third person, the story of Caroline, a young woman from New York who, against her aunt and legal guardian’s wishes, marries a man who raises cattle in Oklahoma Territory. Caroline follows her heart, and finds a life of hardships she was not raised for…

The Legacy is a gripping story of guilt and forgiveness, enduring friendship and family binds, that takes us through the history of pioneer women at the turn of the last century. Although not as good as Kate Morton’s novels, The Legacy should appeal to fans of The Forgotten Garden.

Rating: 4/5