When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton whose only traces remain in a few tantalisingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish?
As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes ever more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph – and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth’s . . .
Pregnant and unmarried Alice is sent away to Fiercombe out in the sticks to hide her family’s shame and wait for her baby’s arrival. She hasn’t been there very long when she begins to investigate the manor and its family’s history.
Told in a dual timeline between Alice’s first person narrative in the ‘present’ in the 1930s and Elizabeth’s third person in the past in the late 1890s, these women are from very different backgrounds, both pregnant and with a story to tell.
I liked the blurb and the premise of this book but it was just too slow paced for me. I know that the idea should be to tell the story which culminates in some kind of ending but it shouldn’t be a slog to get there which unfortunately I found this to be which was a shame. However, I enjoyed the mystery element to this book, waiting to discover what did happen to Elizabeth and her child; so much so that I found Elizabeth’s story to be more interesting and would look forward to her parts more.
Alice is young, very naive, but her heart’s in the right place but her story is slow. Whereas Elizabeth’s story offers more intrigue surrounding her family’s past and her mental health. She’s obviously suffering from post-natal depression and the details of the harsh treatments of the time are an insight and very sad.
I felt some things were left unsaid – Alice’s relationship with her mother, the eerieness/haunting or whatever that was weren’t really finished off and the romantic part seemed to have been added as an afterthought as it didn’t really appear till the end and then to package it all up nicely. Overall, a nice story with some lovely descriptions of the Gloucestershire countryside in the summer, just too slow for me!
Many thanks to the publishers for approving me for an ARC via Netgalley.
Connect with the author Kate Riordan via