Sunday, 15 February 2015

Review: Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan

A house as old as Fiercombe Manor holds many secrets within its walls. But which dark chapter of its history is haunting Alice, a young woman staying there during the course of a fateful summer?

In 1933, naive twenty-two-year-old Alice is pregnant, unmarried, and disgraced. She can no longer share her parents' London home, so her desperate mother concocts a cover story and begs her old friend, Mrs. Jelphs, for help. The housekeeper at rural Fiercombe Manor, Mrs. Jelphs is moved by Alice's "plight" as a new widow and agrees to watch over her in the secluded English countryside until the baby is born and given up for adoption. Because the manor house's owners, Lord and Lady Stanton, no longer live there, Alice's only company will be Mrs. Jelphs and her skeleton staff.

Thirty years before Alice's arrival, Lady Elizabeth Stanton awaits the birth of her second child, fervently hoping he will be the boy her husband desires. But as her time nears, she is increasingly tormented by memories of what happened with her first baby and terrified that history will repeat itself . . . with devastating consequences.

At first, Fiercombe Manor offers Alice a welcome relief from her mother's disapproving gaze. But she begins to sense that all is not well in the picturesque Gloucestershire valley. After a chance encounter with Tom, the young scion of the Stanton family, Alice discovers that Fiercombe's beauty is haunted by the clan's tragic past. She is determined to exorcise the ghosts of the idyllic, isolated house.

Nothing can prepare Alice for what she uncovers. Can she escape the tragic fate of the other women who have lived in the Fiercombe valley?

ebook, 416 pages
Expected publication: February 17th 2015 by Harper
Genre: Historical Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from Harper via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

After reading the synopsis I can say that this book sounded like it was exactly what I needed to get me out my string of bad luck when it comes to books lately. Two different woman from two different times in the same house filled with mystery, secrets and clues was a sure fire way to get my attention.

First off I have to say that the story and writing reminded me slightly of Kate Morton. This is very high praise from me because I have never been let down by any of her writing. I don't think I can go as far as saying that it was as good but it is pretty close.There was something in the the way the setting is described and the story told that drew me in and made me feel like I was there. I could feel the shift in the wind, the chill of the water and the heat of the sun. The valley spoke to me and I was dying to know its secrets. The hint of ghosts, secrets and tragedy had me glued to the pages.

We hear two voices from two different times in this book. Alice is sent to Fiercombe Manor in 1933 after she makes a decision that will alter her entire future. Lady Elizabeth Stanton lived in the same valley 30 years earlier. Through these two alternating voices are two stories with some similarities and common links. The stories unfold in a slow and unrushed manor which worked in its favour. Sometimes I complain about stories being too slow but with Fiercombe Manor it was very effective. Often I find myself enjoying one story better than the other but I enjoyed each one equally. I liked both Alice and Elizabeth and the way their stories unfolded.

Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres and I love stories that go between past and present. With this book it goes between past and even farther past which was an added bonus. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this book and look forward to reading more from Kate Riordan.

About the Author

Kate Riordan is a British writer and journalist who worked for the Guardian and Time Out London. She is also the author of Birdcage Walk, and she is already at work on her third novel. Born in London, she now lives in the Gloucestershire countryside.

Connect with Kate

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