“Secrets don’t go away completely, it turns out. Like moths in a wardrobe, they nibble away, hidden, before you notice the hole.”
Rita Murphy– It is the summer of 1971 and Rita is the young nanny for the Harrington family. Orphaned at an early age, Rita strives to ‘belong’ somewhere. Now twenty years old, her only real treasured possession is a glass terrarium, which she cares for religiously.
When Mrs. Harrington loses a baby and a year later a fire destroys part of their London home, Rita accompanies Mrs. Harrington and her two other children, Hera and Teddy, to an overgrown family house in the Forest of Dean, called Foxcote Manor. With Mr. Harrington away working, Rita shoulders most of the responsibility for the household and children because Jeannie Harrington has still not recovered from her recent ordeals. The summer takes a downward turn when an unwelcome visitor comes to stay AND it takes an even more surreal turn when Hera ‘finds‘ a baby girl left on a tree stump near the house.
“Foxcote’s struggle with the forest was clearly lost some time ago.”
Sylvie Broom (present day) – is a forty-six year old make-up artist who has recently moved out of the family home after tiring of her husband’s many infidelities. Sylvie is the mother of nineteen year old Annie – a girl who is struggling with the separation of her parents.
Sylvie’s mother has recently suffered a tragic fall and is now comatose in hospital. Extremely close to her mother, this event has put Sylvie’s world in a tailspin. Whilst going through her mother’s things, she discovers an old manila folder labeled “Summer 1971”.
“I think if we keep the dark things shut up inside, they grow big. Like weeds. They smother all the flowers and block the sunlight”
I’ve read and enjoyed Eve Chase’s two previous novels, so it was with some excitement that I requested a copy of this, her third book. Once again, she features an old house and a dual time-line narrative, both elements that I enjoy.
With likable characters and an intriguing mystery created by dark family secrets, this novel has ascertained that the author is one who is an ‘auto-read’ for me.
This novel exemplifies the often disturbing fact that despite our good intentions, things sometimes have a way of turning bad. How we keep the tender, vulnerable bits of ourselves hidden deep inside instead of sharing them.
This novel has myriad threads that the author has successfully woven into an entertaining story. A story which I can confidently recommend to all readers who enjoy sagas teeming with family secrets. I truly enjoyed it.
Note: This book was also published under the title: “The Glass House”. (In my personal opinion, “The Glass House” title and the cover are a much truer ‘fit’ for this novel – but hey, they didn’t ask me. LOL)I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from the publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Random House, at my request, via Edelweiss. This review is my way of saying thanks for a great read.
Publication date: July 21, 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN: 9780525542384 ASIN: B07ZN3S2H9 386 pages
Eve Chase is the author of Black Rabbit Hall and The Wildling Sisters, and is a pseudonym of a journalist who has worked extensively across the British press. She lives in Oxford, England with her husband and three children.
Follow Eve Chase on Twitter @EvePollyChase