Some secrets are better left buried.... When 17-year-old Phoebe Turner visits Wilton's Music Hall to watch her Aunt Cissy performing on stage, she risks the wrath of her mother, Maud, who marches with the Hallelujah Army, campaigning for all London theatres to close. While there, Phoebe is drawn to a stranger, the enigmatic Nathaniel Samuels, who heralds dramatic changes in the lives of all three women. When offered the position of companion to Nathaniel's reclusive wife, Phoebe leaves her life in London's East End for Dinwood Court in Herefordshire - a house that may well be haunted and which holds the darkest of truths...
©2011 Essie Fox (P)2012 Oakhill Publishing
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"One of my favourite books."
Every aspect of this book keeps you turning the pages. Great story and great narration.
You really feel like you are back in the 1800s both of which are a credit to the author and narrator.
I've lost count of how many times I've read this book now, I don't sleep great and I find certain books help me drift off at night, this is my number one, go to book for a bed time story. It's a combination of being absorbed into the story and the tone of the narrators voice that have me comfortable and relaxed in no time.
"Could do better"
The descriptions of place were good and the character pool was diverse but I could find little sympathy with most of them. Neither was there much in the way of Gothic in this 'gothic' novel. The titillating elements were rather jaded and the whole thing was a little on the limp side - much like the ubiquitous rose pressed between the pages of the protagonists step-mother's diary or ...ahem... the post-coital member of her step-brother.
This is the first and probably the last.
She did do a reasonable job and you could hear that her forte was the colloquial London accents; she did less of a good job with the noblesse and you could here the tell-tale short vowels in place of the upper-class drawling tones that one might expect of Victorian play-boys.
If it was heavily abridged and re-written with more grandeur, drama and a less annoying main female character.
I should have read the other reviews before buying - they are generally as I feel: disappointed.
I'm not really sure who would enjoy this although I see that it has some very positive reviews. I have previously very much enjoyed books by Sarah Waters ( Affinity, Tipping The Velvet, Fingersmith) , Jane Harris (The Observations, Gillespie and I) and more recently, Anna Freeman (Fair Fight). I thought that this may be in a similar vein but I was very much mistaken. This book is weakly plotted and characterised and cannot be compared to the others I have mentioned.
This was her debut novel and so her writing may have improved with time but I don't think that I would listen to any more of her work.
I felt that the range of accents was insufficient to match the differing backgrounds of the characters. The London accents were well delivered but the characters requiring RP voices sounded too London inflected. One female character who was described as having a voice with a clear bell-like tone sounded more like Barbara Windsor.
To be honest, I couldn't really engage with any of the characters enough to make that judgement. I felt that they were all similarly weak.
I am sorry to be writing such a negative review as I am sure a huge amount of work went into writing this book. Unfortunately, I just didn't find it enjoyable to listen to or even that interesting and I wasn't able to finish the final third of the book as I felt that I had given it enough time to prove itself and that, if anything, the quality of the plotting was actually deteriorating as the book progressed. Beautiful cover, very disappointing listen.
"Nobody tells the truth"
Phoebe has been brought up by a bible thumping mother and a carefree theatrical aunt. When her aunt dies, Phoebe is sent to be a companion to a rich man's wife in the country. Everyone comments on Phoebe's similarity to her aunt and to the man's deceased daughter. The butler appears to spend more time with the wife than her husband and the theatrical family know more about the husband than they are letting on. Poor Phoebe has to decipher who is telling the truth and where it leaves her.
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