Monday, 8 December 2014

Book Review: THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH BY KATE RIORDAN


My Thoughts on this atmospheric and spellbinding story ......


THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH
BY
KATE RIORDAN


Published:  15 Jan 2015
Publisher:  Penguin books
Pages:  437 (paperback advance reading copy)


Summer, 1933, Alice Eveleigh has arrived at Fiercombe Manor in disgrace.  Hiding her shame in the beautiful yet isolated manor, in the care of housekeeper, Mrs. Jelphs, Alice soon begins to sense that something isn't quite right.  And that she is being watched ....

There are secrets at Fiercombe that those who remain there are determined to keep.  Tragedy haunts the empty rooms and foreboding hangs heavy in the stifling heat.  Traces of the previous lady of the manor, Elizabeth Stanton, are everywhere and Alice discovers Elizabeth's life eerily mirrors the path she herself is on.


The past is set to repeat its sorrows, and with devastating consequences.



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'I could never have imagined all that would happen in those few short months and how, by the end of them, my life would have altered irrevocably and for ever'

These are the words of Alice, three years on from the long hot summer of 1933 as she recalls the events and people from that time who changed her world forever.

The story then started in 1932 as Alice is wondering when 'her life - her real life - would begin'.  She has a good job but becomes smitten with a married man and when she falls pregnant her mother suggests she go to stay at the centuries old Fiercombe Manor, deep in a Gloucestershire valley, while she awaits the birth.  

Glad to be away from London and her mother's chilly disapproval, she is almost enthusiastic about exploring the manor and tries to discover what became of the family who used to live there but no-one seems able to tell her.



I felt intrigued and almost excited, as though a mystery had presented itself to be solved.  Delving into the past was just the sort of distraction I needed to take me away from my own present.


Interspersed with Alice's story is Lady Elizabeth Stanton's story where she recalls the summer of 1898 when she too is awaiting the birth of her child. She lived in Stanton House which was nearby to Fiercombe Manor.


Alice's mind starts to play tricks on her as she has strange dreams of Elizabeth and thinks she sees glimpses in the shadows of the dusty corridors.  These events were quite scary and chilling to read and there was a real sense of foreboding as Alice gradually becomes obsessed with Elizabeth and her family and the mystery of their disappearance.


The old manor house itself has staircases that are out of bounds, locked rooms, clocks and watches don't work and there are several out buildings which have been long since demolished but no-one knows why.  The descriptions of the house and grounds are wonderfully eerie and all add to the atmosphere that builds throughout as the tale unwinds.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was full of wonderfully drawn characters such as Ruck, the groundsman, still there after four decades, who sees much but says little.  A well-told story that had me hooked from the beginning.



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Available from January 2015
I received an advance reading copy from Real Readers / NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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