Friday, July 8, 2011

A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore

This is Rachel Hore's fourth novel. It recounts the story of auctioneer Jude who is bereft after the loss of her husband and travels to her home county of Norfolk to value a collection of books and scientific instruments at Starborough Hall. Through Jude's research we learn the story of astronomer Anthony Wickham and his adopted daughter Esther and we also see Jude try to heal the rifts in her family and discover more about her own ancestors and their connection to the wonderful Starborough and it's atmospheric woods and folly. 

This is a fantastically written book with wonderful insight into the characters. It has the page-turning quality of a thriller but yet it is a romantic tale of family and relationships. Mystery and the idea of fate and destiny pervade the story. The motif of the star is a comforting constant and I felt the loving but at times bickering and jealous relationship between the sisters was particularly well drawn. The sense of place was inherent to the story and just as Rachel has previously captured the beauty and wild atmosphere of Cornwall in "The Memory Garden" here she has described the beauty of the North Norfolk countryside vividly. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good quality contemporary women's fiction with the an emphasis on mystery, secrets and the past, especially if you are a fan of Kate Morton, Barbara Erskine, Diana Gabaldon, Joanne Harris, Audrey Niffenegger or Kate Mosse.

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