To be published January 2015
The Girl in the Photograph is a haunting and atmospheric novel that tells the tales of women in two different eras – the 1890’s and 1930’s – and how their lives seem to be entwined by fate. Kate Riordan’s novel is a beautifully dark and beguiling tale which will sweep you away. It will appeal to fans of Kate Morton and Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.
In the summer of 1933, Alice Eveleigh has arrived at Fiercombe Manor in disgrace. The beautiful house becomes her sanctuary, a place to hide her shame from society in the care of the housekeeper, Mrs Jelphs. But the manor also becomes a place of suspicion, one of secrecy.
Something isn’t right.
Someone is watching.
There are secrets that the manor house seems determined to keep. Tragedy haunts the empty rooms and foreboding hangs heavy in the stifling heat. Traces of the previous occupant, Elizabeth Stanton, are everywhere and soon Alice discovers Elizabeth’s life eerily mirrors the path she herself is on.
The past is set to repeat its sorrows, with devastating consequences.
Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist. She started out as an editorial assistant at the Guardian, followed by a stint as deputy editor for the lifestyle section of Time Out. She now works freelance and lives in the Cotswolds, where she is currently working on her next novel.
Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for my review copy.
It is England in the 1930s. It is not the done thing to be become pregnant outside of wedlock. Alice is packed away, to stay with her mother’s old friend, Mrs Jelps, in the country and to give birth to her illegitimate baby. Mrs Jelps is the housekeeper at Fiercombe Manor. Alice becomes fascinated with stories of the past concerning Elizabeth. Mrs Jelps used to be Elizabeth’s personal maid. Elizabeth is quite an enigma and Alice finds herself playing the detective trying to work her out. We meet a young Elizabeth, as the story alternates between the 1930s and the 1890s.
This is a moody, supernatural, historical mystery. The two main female characters, Elizabeth and Alice seem to have little in the way of choice and are at the mercy of their families. Although they are very different in terms of class, they both seem to be in a similar situation and this draws Alice to Elizabeth. Alice is banished from her family, for foolishly falling in love with the wrong man. Elizabeth is trying to seek approval from her husband, in a life of constant miscarriages and post natal depression. Both seem to show that being female is hard.
There is a lovely mental health theme running through it, that kept me fascinated with Elizabeth. We see how Elizabeth is shunned by her husband, when depression hits her and grief. Elizabeth is demonized as she comes under the control of the medical profession and locked away. Her child is taken away from her and no one listens to her.
I really enjoyed this read. It was sad, but at the same time it was strangely uplifting. It made me think about mental distress within a historical context and the position of women in society.