Mason’s Retreat was a bland and depressing novel in which Christopher Tilghman tries to create a historical epic peppered with what if done well are meaty issues. Unfortunately Tilghman falls terribly shorts. The story takes place on a family estate on the Eastern shore of the Chesapeake. The pre-WWII time-period and themes should have led to a more dynamic tale. Sadly ideas such as a woman’s needs versus what is best for her family, the legacy of slavery in Maryland and the complicated relationship between agriculture and industrialization were introduced yet not fully developed. Another disappointing element is that Tilghman promises to reveal some great wrong in the Mason family past that has cursed the family in the present. This tainted history is never truly exposed which left me questioning why this was even introduced? Finally, the overarching sense of doom makes for a depressing read. None of the characters are happy, even when doing something of their choosing. The family from the books’ onset is dysfunctional and fractured. They all experience disappointment, frustration, resentment, lack of commonality and connection with one another. The tension as well as overall feeling of malaise is miserable. I could not wait to be done with Mason’s Retreat. My next book is Clara and Mr. Tiffany.