Cover image for Fiercombe Manor
Title:
Fiercombe Manor
Author:
Riordan, Kate., author.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Girl in the photograph
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2015]
Physical Description:
403 pages ; 24 cm
Summary:
"This ... dual-narrative historical novel, which will appeal to fans of Rebecca and The little stranger, features two women of very different eras who are united by the secrets hidden within the walls of an English manor house."--
General Note:
Originally published as: The girl in the photograph. London : Penguin UK, 2015.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062332943
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

In this haunting and richly imagined dual-narrative tale that echoes the eerie mystery of Rebecca and The Little Stranger, two women of very different eras are united by the secrets hidden within the walls of an English manor house.

In 1933, naive twenty-two year-old Alice--pregnant and unmarried--is in disgrace. Her mother banishes her from London to secluded Fiercombe Manor in rural Gloucestershire, where she can hide under the watchful eye of her mother's old friend, the housekeeper Mrs. Jelphs. The manor's owners, the Stantons, live abroad, and with her cover story of a recently-deceased husband Alice can have her baby there before giving it up for adoption and returning home. But as Alice endures the long, hot summer at Fiercombe awaiting the baby's birth, she senses that something is amiss with the house and its absentee owners.

Thirty years earlier, pregnant Lady Elizabeth Stanton desperately hopes for the heir her husband desires. Tormented by the memory of what happened after the birth of her first child, a daughter, she grows increasingly terrified that history will repeat itself, with devastating consequences.

After meeting Tom, the young scion of the Stanton family, Alice becomes determined to uncover the clan's tragic past and exorcise the ghosts of this idyllic, isolated house. But nothing can prepare Alice for what she uncovers. Soon it is her turn to fear: can she escape the tragic fate of the other women who have lived in the Fiercombe valley . . .


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It's 1933, and Alice Everleigh is pregnant. She's not married, but her lover is, so her mother ships her off to Fiercombe Manor in rural Gloucestershire, where a childhood friend works. Mrs. Jelphs has been in service since the turn of the century, when Edward Stanton shunned the ramshackle manor and built a modern estate for his beautiful wife, Elizabeth, and the sons she was sure to bear him. Instead, their marriage was plagued by miscarriages and postpartum depression, which cut Elizabeth off from her husband and left her afraid to even confide in her diary. By the time Alice arrives, there is no trace left of Stanton Manor, Elizabeth, or her daughter. Alice's summer is peppered by visits from Thomas Stanton, the rakish heir, but more frequently by increasingly dangerous supernatural events. Alice takes refuge in Elizabeth's diary, but its writer's unknown fate has Alice questioning her own safety. Mrs. Jelphs has a touch of Mrs. Danvers about her, and the old driver, Ruck, is truly creepy. This is a good match with fans of new gothics by Diane Setterfield and Kate Morton.--Maguire, Susan Copyright 2015 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Tragic events, buried secrets, and a mysterious manor tether the lives of two English women, separated by 30 years, in Riordan's (Birdcage Walk) Gothic-style dual narrative. Beginning in 1932, narrator Alice Eveleigh, a naive 22-year-old in London, becomes romantically involved with a married man. When she becomes pregnant, Alice's shamed parents concoct a story about a dead husband and whisk her out of the city to an old friend, a buttoned-up housekeeper at the Stanton family's Fiercombe Manor in the Cotswolds. The novel then backs up to 1898, with the other narrator, Lady Elizabeth Stanton, expecting a second child; she hopes it is a healthy boy, an heir for her demanding husband. In 1932, Alice spends her own pregnancy exploring Fiercombe, reading Elizabeth's hidden diary, discovering haunting old photos and discarded toys, and experiencing strange phenomena-screeching owls and "murmuring" wind. She befriends the estate's heir, Tom Stanton, and discovers that she and Elizabeth share a bond: "My life [is] apparently turning into a morbid echo of Elizabeth's." When a shocking secret is revealed, Alice fears for herself and her baby. Riordan's bewitching blend of tainted aristocrats, secretive domestics, and manipulative quacks amid a crumbling English country home is atmospheric and entertaining. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Starred Review. In her pregnant and unmarried state, Alice is considered a disgrace and burden on her family, so she leaves bustling London for the lonely, quiet estate of Fiercombe Manor. It is 1933, and on her own, Alice is left to perform light housework and walk through the wild and (mostly) abandoned gardens. However, there is an undercurrent within the house, an echo of the past that Alice can feel pressing on her, begging to be revealed. She finds diaries from the former lady of the house, Elizabeth Stanton, which skirt around tragedies from 30 years ago and reveal that Elizabeth was also pregnant. Alice feels a kinship despite the foreboding that history may try to repeat itself. VERDICT Heavily borrowing from gothic literature staples Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Riordan (Birdcage Walk) creates a visceral and lively narrative that seizes the reader's attention. Readers of the Victorian/gothic genre who have also enjoyed Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale and other contemporary gothics will applaud and welcome this addition.-Jennifer Funk, McKendree Univ. Lib., Lebanon, IL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.