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Fiercombe Manor
by Kate Riordan


Overview -

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.  Read more...


 
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More About Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan
 
 
 
Overview

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?

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780062332943
  • ISBN-10: 0062332945
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Publish Date: February 2015
  • Page Count: 416


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Historical - General
Books > Fiction > Sagas
Books > Fiction > Gothic

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-12-15
  • Reviewer: Staff

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 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.)

 
BookPage Reviews

A house of secrets

When 22-year-old Alice becomes pregnant out of wedlock in the early 1930s, both she and her family fear disgrace. Her mother sends her from London to the Gloucestershire countryside to await the baby’s birth at a place called Fiercombe Manor, after which she will give the baby to an orphanage. Her mother’s old friend, Mrs. Jelphs, is the housekeeper at the empty manor, and she promises to keep watch over Alice, who has concocted a cover story of a recently deceased husband.

The house’s owners, the Stantons, live abroad, so Alice spends the sweltering summer mostly alone, accompanied by a feeling that something is amiss with the manor and its history. She becomes determined to seek out the secrets of the manor’s past and discovers that, 30 years ago, another pregnant woman suffered a tragedy on the estate. As Alice uncovers Elizabeth’s story, she fears that she, too, will share her fate. Weaving together Alice’s and Elizabeth’s stories, Fiercombe Manor ties together two women who, despite their different statuses and eras, are connected in many ways.

British writer and journalist Kate Riordan has worked for the Guardian, and her debut novel, Birdcage Walk, was based on a real-life crime in 1900s London. Her rich language pulls readers in, giving them a glimpse of the idyllic English countryside, its inhabitants and its secrets. Fiercombe Manor is fierce, imaginative and suspenseful.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews