For me there is something magical about a book set around the literary word. This dual time zone novel is set around the world of publishing and authors which combined with the dual-time zone device, made it the perfect read from this book-lovers perspective.
The past is 1948, features Isabelle, a young woman who left her oppressive home life as a teenager. Isabelle is really leaving a life dominated by her father who had been damaged by World War II and a life of drudgery helping her mother with the house and her younger siblings. She turns up at her aunt’s house in London and soon becomes immersed in the literary world.
The present is Emily who is the editor for Hugh Morton’s (a famous author) autobiography. Having been given a copy of a little-known early book Emily is captivated by references to Isabelle and keen to find out more about this young woman’s life.
Rachel Hore has done a fantastic job of research for this novel and it speaks volumes about women’s lives in post-war England, not just Isabelle’s but those of Emily’s mother and aunt too. The characters are life-like being complicated and making decisions that are not always easily understood. The interspersed stories move the book on at a good pace. As with many of these books you do need to suspend belief at times particularly in the way Emily is drip-fed pieces of information about Isabelle but I was captivated by both women’s vulnerability which was sensitively portrayed.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read with a plot that holds its ground despite the inevitable co-incidences to tie up the loose ends neatly in a bow.
This is the sixth book written by Rachel Hore
The Dream House – The past is Victorian England
Its owner is the frail elderly Agnes, whose story – as it unravels – echoes so much of Kate’s own.
The Memory Garden – Some paintings found in the attic spark the mystery in this one
Then Patrick finds some old paintings in an attic, and as he and Mel investigate the identity of the artist, they are drawn into an extraordinary tale of illicit passion and thwarted ambition from a century ago, a tale that resonates in their own lives.
The Glass Painters Daughter – this is my favourite, set in Victorian England in a shop that deals in stained glass.
In a tiny stained-glass shop hidden in the backstreets of Westminster lies the cracked, sparkling image of an angel.
A Place of Secrets – a connection to an 18 Century Folly drives this novel
‘Rachel Hore’s intriguing Richard and Judy recommended read, which is layered with a series of mysteries, some more supernatural than others’ –Independent
A Gathering Storm – The role of female SOE Agents in the Second World War
spanning from Cornwall to London, and Occupied France, in which friendship and love are tested, and the ramifications reach down the generations.