Posts Tagged With: rachel hore

A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore


Addition: Library paperback

Genre: Historical mystery, female fiction

Rating: 4/5


The night before it all begins, Jude has the dream again…

Can dreams be passed down through families? As a child Jude suffered a recurrent nightmare: running through a dark forest, crying for her mother. Now her six-year-old niece, Summer, is having the same dream, and Jude is frightened for her.

A successful auctioneer, Jude is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. When she’s asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham, a lonely 18th-century astronomer, she leaps at the chance to escape London for the untamed beauty of Norfolk, where she grew up.

As Jude untangles Wickham’s tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present. What have Summer’s nightmares to do with Starbrough folly, the eerie crumbling tower in the woods from which Wickham and his adopted daughter Esther once viewed the night sky? With the help of Euan, a local naturalist, Jude searches for answers in the wild, haunting splendour of the Norfolk forests. Dare she leave behind the sadness in her own life and learn to love again?

This is a historical mystery that haunts one family, that is laced with a love story. Jude works for a prestigious auctioneer company in London. Things are looking bad for the company since the recession hit – that is until she receives a call from the Starbrough residence in Norfolk. They have a library which has many first additions and some historic star gazing equipment. Jude doesn’t know what to expect when she arrives in Norfolk – her old home. What she finds is an old folly, a niece having the same nightmares she used to have a family mystery and a lovely man…

I really enjoyed this book. It was not a quick read, but it was well worth reading. This is a book that encompasses the past and the present, love, history, astrology, travellers and family. The main focus of the book is the mystery. Jude is at Starbrough to look through and catalogue Anthony Wickham’s library collection, however, very early on she comes across a diary, not kept by Anthony, but his adopted daughter Esther. There are no records of Esther in the family archives – who was she? Where did she come from and what happened to her? Are the suspicions right – is she a girl from a noble background? If so, how did she end up lost at the side of the road in Norfolk, aged three? There are so many questions for Jude to answer. She roams around the countryside, hunting for clues – is there another diary? I really enjoyed this story line. Hore includes sections from Esther’s diary in the story – taking us back to her life – adding another dimension to the story.

Alongside this, Jude is still trying to recover from the death of her husband, her Gran has given her a necklace that belonged to her traveller friend, and wants Jude to find the friend to return the necklace and Jude is struggling with her sister Claire and the fact Claire’s daughter Summer is having the same nightmares that Jude used to have. What is the connection? Why is Summer having those dreams too? The most exciting part of the book was the climax at the end – Summer goes missing. Her dream leads her to the old folly – the building where Anthony Wickham used to star gaze. It is unsafe, possibly haunted and scares Summer. Yet she sleep walks there. It turns out, she is going to try and save Esther – who was locked up there after her father died – even though Esther lived in the 1800s. What is the connection between Esther and Summer?

All is revealed at the end – loose ends tied up and questions answered. Maybe the connections were too predictable and unrealistic, but I liked it! The ending is very neat – the family line that runs down to Summer and the Lord who happened to be working with the Jude’s auctioneer company. However, all answers were satisfying, and I enjoyed the way Hore wrapped the book up.

This is a complex book with many story lines, all linked fascinating. There is a love story – we get to see Jude’s broken heart healed by Euan – even though there was confusion about which sister he was falling for. Again, this romance is fairly predictable, but it was lovely anyway, and didn’t take over the story. It was a nice story that completed the book.

I thought all the characters were great to read about. I felt for Jude – finding it hard to relate to her sister, struggling with love and working hard to solve the Wickham mystery and get a great sale for her company. I really liked Chantel as well – the mother who lived at Starbrough Hall. She was caring, and loved the library – a great reason for me to like her!

This is a complex, exciting book. It has mystery, suspense and romance. This is the second book by Rachel Hore that I have read and I have really enjoyed both. She is fast becoming a favourite author and I highly recommend this book.

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The Memory Garden by Rachel Hore


Magical Cornwall, a lost garden, a love story from long ago…
Lamorna Cove – a tiny bay in Cornwall, picturesque, unspoilt. A hundred years ago it was the haunt of a colony of artists. Today, Mel Pentreath hopes it is a place where she can escape the pain of her mother’s death and a broken love affair, and gradually put her life back together.

Renting a cottage in the enchanting but overgrown grounds of Merryn Hall, Mel embraces her new surroundings and offers to help her landlord, Patrick Winterton, restore the garden. Soon she is daring to believe her life can be rebuilt. Then Patrick finds some old paintings in an attic, and as he and Mel investigate the identity of the artist, they are drawn into an extraordinary tale of illicit passion and thwarted ambition from a century ago, a tale that resonates in their own lives. But how long can Mel’s idyll last before reality breaks in and everything is threatened?

Shifting imperceptibly from one generation to another, The Memory Garden vividly evokes the lives of two women, born a century apart, but who face the same challenges to their happiness and survival.

I loved this novel ♥ This is the first Rachel Hore novel that I have read, and I am so glad I bought this book. I have already leant it out to others and reserved another book at the library by Hore. This is a beautiful novel set in rural Cornwall, full of history, love, secrets and flowers. The book follows Mel as she hides away in a secluded cottage under the pretence of writing a book about local artists, but really mending her broken heart. The man she has rented the cottage from, Patrick, is also suffering from a break-up, once where she won’t go away. They strike up a friendship over the garden, pulling it up and discovering new secrets of the old house Patrick lives in. Mel investigates the life of this mysterious artist, and in the process re-builds her own life.

This is just a stunning book that I can’t rate highly enough. While reading this I was reminded of both The Forgotten Garden and The Secret Garden. This book is a cross between the two, and as I loved both of them, this did not let me down. It is a simple story line: girl moves to Cornwall, discovers an old secret about a love affair, and falls in love herself, but I think the simplicity of the book is one of the things that makes it special. Along with the descriptions of both the bay where artists painted and the grounds and gardens of Merryn Hall, this was just beautiful.

This book did jump back to the past so we could learn about this secret artist – Polly, a maid, and her love affair. I enjoyed these sections – seeing how life can change for one girl, and what love can do to you. The history seemed accurate enough and I liked how the reader was given a glimpse into the time when the house was at its most majestic and that the reader was allowed to get to know Polly and the events surrounding her life.

There were some fantastic characters in the book, to go along with the great storyline and wonderful descriptions. I liked both Mel and Polly. I found myself empathising with them and wanting to know what was going to happen. I loved the people in the quiet town of Lamorna Cove that Mel meets. They were believable characters and people I would like to know! My favourite character was probably John the head gardener when Polly was at Merryn Hall though. Although we didn’t see a lot of him, he was strong and silent and as the novel unfolds his good nature comes through and he plays a very important role in what happens to Merryn Hall and its residents.

This was not a fast read, but very enjoyable. Like I said, I have been recommending this novel and lending my copy out because I really enjoyed it. It was a great read and for those who like woman’s books and historical novels, this is well worth reading. Top marks from me, I can’t recommend it enough.


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The Glass Painter’s Daughter by Rachel Hore

Fran Morrison has recently come back to London, after travelling around the world building her career as a musician.  She originally left to get away from the cold relationship she had with her withdrawn and secretive father, who never told her anything about her mother or her mother’s death.  But now, Fran’s father is seriously ill and she has to come back and look after his glass painting business.

Fran and her father’s assistant Zac accept a commission from the local church to restore an old stained glass window, and while doing so, Fran uncovers a story from over 100 years earlier, in which she learns the story of another young woman named Laura.  As Fran struggles to cope with her changing life and circumstances, she finds her own life and feelings reflected in that of Laura’s story.

This book started off extremely well and I thought that I would love it.  I certainly enjoyed it – the writing flowed and I felt easy to lose myself in the story.  Although Fran’s story is the main bulk of the narrative, Laura’s story was also well told, and I find both storylines interesting.

However, the book was slightly marred by the apparent obsession with angels which was constant throughout (indeed, each chapter is headed by a quote about angels).  The other problem was that there were too many coincidences between the two main storylines, to be believable.  To say more would be to give away spoilers, but this annoyed  me slightly.

However, Fran was on the whole, an engaging narrator.  There are also a good supporting cast of characters, who were all well portrayed and the writing at times was very touching.

I would certainly try more by this author.  Despite my criticisms, this book intrigued me enough for me to keep reading quickly, and I would recommend it.

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