An irresistible World War II story of a forbidden upstairs-downstairs romance in a great English country house.
It’s the spring of 1938 and no longer safe to be a Jew in Vienna. Nineteen-year-old Elise Landau is forced to leave her glittering life of parties and champagne to become a parlor maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay, where servants polish silver and serve drinks on the lawn. But war is coming, and the world is changing. When Kit, the son of Tyneford’s master, returns home, he and Elise strike up an unlikely friendship that will transform Tyneford - and Elise - forever.
A pageturning tale of family, love, loss, and the power of the human spirit set against the perennially popular backdrop of World War II England, Natasha Solomons’ The House at Tyneford is upmarket romantic fiction at its best.
Natasha Solomons is a screenwriter and the internationally bestselling author of Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English and Mr. Rosenblum’s List. She lives with her husband in Dorset, England.
©2011 Natasha Solomons (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Natasha Solomons has written a lovely, atmospheric novel full of charming characters and good, oldfashioned storytelling.” (Kristin Hannah, New York Times best-selling author)
As an Audible Editor I listen for a living! British classics, YA novels, speculative fiction, and anything quirky, fascinating, or heart-wrenching.
I didn’t realize I even liked this book until I got to the end and found myself sobbing in the car on the way to work. Clearly it affected me. So that’s the good news. If you listen to this I think you will care for the characters, possibly even despite yourself. But I picked this up because it had been billed to me as “an ode to the old English country house” and “for Downton Abbey addicts.” But I’m not sure it was either of these things. Despite the title, the house didn’t feel like the central character. (Perhaps the visual evocation would have been stronger had I been reading?) But I felt it was the onslaught of history - awful, looming, threatening, and oversees – that served as the main influence in this book. It was the background horror of the Holocaust that brought me to tears.
This novel is about a young Jewish woman from “the smart set” in Vienna who takes a position as a parlour maid in an English House in 1938. While she is sheltered from the actualities of life back in Vienna - the silence created by the slowing postal system, the delayed appearance of her parents, the ineffectiveness of money sent to literally pay their ransom out of Austria, these things make up the negative space that consumes this novel. But the central love stories that take up the day to day at Tyneford, the fussy butler and particular housekeeper, even the awful society visitors – they don’t stand a chance against the things that you aren’t seeing and hearing. I guess that’s why it felt like a vacuum to me - and not an entirely satisfying one.
I know I've just read a good book when I can't wait to share it with my friends.
The publisher's summary makes it seem like a typically-formulaic romance novel. IT IS NOT. For one thing, it's pretty clean. No bodice-ripping scenes involved, but there is some "colorful dialog" just to keep things "realistic". Normally, I don't dig romance novels, but my daughter raved about it, so I gave it a listen. It is the first book by Natasha Solomons that I have listened to, but it won't be the last. She is such a gifted writer. Her style is descriptive without being verbose which, as I'm sure any writer knows, can be a challenge. I would compare her writing to that of Susanna Kearsley because it has that same overall sense of elegant melancholy. She made me feel such compassion for Elise, who just didn't fit in anywhere. I was able to sense her loneliness and profound loss without pitying her. This is one of those books that I wanted to stretch on into eternity. The characters are well-developed, but not overly so. The author did her job well, leaving me wanting more.
Now, about the narrator: she usually grates on my nerves. I forgot that I had promised myself never to listen to anything she narrates ever again, but I decided that I wasn't going to let her ruin the book for me. To give credit where it is due, she didn't do a bad job with this book, aside from not voicing men very well (it IS difficult for a woman to read masculine dialog). In fact, there are some scenes that just would not have had the proper pathos had I just read the book. The scene where Elise first meets Kit (while she's trying to expres her frustration by shouting at the sea, using all of the English swear words she knows) would not have been nearly as funny either if I hadn't listened to the audiobook.
Without giving away any of the plotlines, I'd like to add that you should have a box of tissues handy before you listen. I wish someone would have warned me ahead of time.
Avid Audiobook listener. Mostly like historical fiction or contemporary mystery/suspense.
Not sure how I feel about this book I know I didn't love it but it did keep my attention which can be a difficult task. I just felt the story was kind of boring not much to it and a bit predictable. However I did like the characters so I wanted to listen and find out what happens. It also took a while to get use to the narrator but once I sped up the speed of the book to 1.5 it was good.
It ranks high and I have never written a review before. I felt though, after reading some of the reviews regarding the narrator, that I had to say my piece!
I listen to many audible books and have listened and enjoyed for years. I listen while in the car and sometimes hate to reach my destination. I generally find that I have to listen to the beginning of a story more than once - as my mind is on my driving, it sometimes requires an extra listen to establish who is who and what is what. I found the very beginning a touch difficult for that reason. I did not listen again to the very beginning but found myself able to get into the story quickly and familiarize myself with the characters easily. I was immediately brought into the story. I am now at the end - not quite finished - but sadly, I really do not want it to end. I am so touched by this story. I read so many books from this time period - perhaps being Jewish, the subject is exceptionally near to my heart. For me, this was a very different take on it - so many things to realize about this time in history - things I have never thought about before. I wouldn't want to tell the story - it's better for you to just read and enjoy and savor yourself.
Now this is the reason that I am indeed writing my first review. When I read the reviews I discovered many listeners who were very unhappy with the performance. I listen to so many audible books - while I am always listening to a story myself, my husband and I are always sharing a story together - we are in the car a lot :)
I love Justine Eyre's performance - it is fantastic - I am totally involved with the characters because of her - her accents are wonderful - the feelings that she portrays with her words - I love it. She is another reason why I will be so unhappy to finish this story. I will search for other books that she has narrated. I have come to look forward to hearing her voice alone as much as the story.
I am so dismayed to read the negative things that people have said.
My son in law is a writer and of course I love his books. I understand how important the narrator is and I was disappointed with the narration of one of his books (my lips are sealed - I will never tell). The interesting thing though was that so many people LOVED the narration of his book. So I guess it is a very personal thing.
For me, the narration of this book added to the story - I loved it.
This book didn't have the grace of Downton Abby, but the story was solid. Certainly a coming of age story in time of WWII. I would recommend the book. It provides yet another story of how people existed during WWII and the heartache and anxiety that was felt by all.
I recently read War Brides and found that it gave me good background for what was happening outside of big houses like Tyneford. The Distant Hours, by Kate Morton, was a similar story of living in the big estate during war. I think I enjoyed Tyneford the least of these three, actually. Still, I did enjoy it and would recommend it.
Elise, the main character was the most memorable. It was her story, her life we followed.
I really liked this book. I have read other books and seen plays about this time in history when Jewish children were shipped to England to be safe during WW II. This story brought elements to light that I hadn't really thought about before (how it separated siblings, how the children were so worried about their parents, and so on). It is beautifully written and read. A very good listen.
Glad to be part of the audible community and I hope that my reviews help to choose the right book and share my love of reading.
The story line will keep you captive. The characters are somewhat so real, that you want to shake them, or you will want to step in and say your two cents, the characters will make you feel with them. The performance is good, not the best, but definitely good. Get this book you will not regret it!!
I seriously loved this story ! It is reminiscent of Downton Abbey (story takes place mainly on an English country estate just prior to and during WWII) but it's characters and plot stand on their own. Lovely discriptions of happy family times in Vienna before the war, and gorgeous discriptions of the rugged English coast, the story has a romantic sheen that is slowly dimmed as the reality of war intrudes even to this remote English village. And Justine Eyre's narration was perfection.
If you love romance novels, you will love this. If you hate romance novels, you will hate this.
Probably not. Did not find heroine at all likeable. Annoying small mistakes in historical research.
Very precious, with a peculiar and affected curling of the R's, like Barbara Walters.
It's just not ok to have someone hit in the head with a boat boom and cowering in the bottom of the boat, and then the next second deciding that she's thrilled because loves boating and the water.
Quit in the middle. I'm Jewish and I already knew what was going to happen.
The story as a whole is good, probably a bit too many twists and turns, but you become satisfied with the outcome of the main character. It could probably be a much shorter book, instead of having long drags of empty words. Its not a captivating book that will leave you in thought for days but a nice love and coming of age story.
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