About the Book
Outside a remote manor house in an idyllic wood, a baby girl is found.
The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They’re grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house’s dark, dusty corners. Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour – and the law – don’t seem to apply.
But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds. And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass. Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece…
Format: eARC (400 pages) Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication date: 14th May 2020 Genre: Mystery
Find The Glass House on Goodreads
I’ve enjoyed both the books by Eve Chase I’ve read previously – Black Rabbit Hall and The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde (US title, The Wildling Sisters). The author sticks to the same successful formula in The Glass House (US title, The Daughters of Foxcote Manor): multiple points of view and timelines, a story involving family secrets and an atmospheric location. In this case, the latter is the slightly rundown Foxcote Manor situated deep in the dense Forest of Dean.
The book opens in 1971 with the arrival at Foxcote Manor of the Harrington family – Jeannie, her daughter Hera and son Teddy along with nanny, Rita (known in the family as ‘Big Rita’). Jeannie’s husband, Walter, is notable by his absence on business and it transpires this is no summer vacation but an enforced relocation from their London home in the wake of traumatic events. And it becomes apparent that Rita has found herself in a rather dysfunctional family and in a house whose location she finds unsettling. She experiences “an eerie watched feeling, especially at night when the house is lit up and the darkness rubs against the windows”.
The author is certainly fond of metaphors and similes, some of which work better than others. However, the depiction of family dynamics is deftly handled, such as the way in which the arrival of the baby affects Teddy, no longer the centre of attention as the youngest in the family. And there are moments of insight such as the observation on married life as “an editing process…a discerning closing down of other options…like choosing a capsule wardrobe – navy, black and cream – over fleeting extravagance, throwaway fast fashion”.
Moving to the present day, the reader is introduced to Sylvie, recently separated from her husband and dealing with domestic problems of her own, including her ailing mother and her troubled teenage daughter, Annie. For support she has only her sister, Caroline, but she lives abroad. The connection between the two storylines gradually unfolds, revealing intriguing echoes of the past and secrets waiting to be discovered.
But what about the mystery of the dead body found in the forest, I hear you ask? Who is it, how did they die and who was responsible? You’ll discover the answer to the first two fairly quickly after the event but I’d be surprised if you work out the solution to the third.
As always in this kind of story, a degree of suspension of disbelief is required in relation to some of the coincidences that occur. I have to say as well that the sections set in the past didn’t scream 1970s to me, apart that is for the cheese and piccalilli sandwiches! Having said that, The Glass House is a well-crafted mystery about family secrets and the lasting, unforseen consequences of past actions. It will definitely appeal to fans of Eve Chase’s previous books and readers of the books of Kate Morton.
I received an advance review copy courtesy of Michael Joseph via NetGalley.
In three words: Atmospheric, intense, mystery
Try something similar: The House by the Loch by Kirsty Wark
About the Author
Growing up, Eve Chase only ever wanted to be a writer. After studying English literature at university, she worked as a magazine journalist, and particularly loved interviewing colourful characters and nosing around grand private homes. Her fascination with houses – the domestic worlds we inhabit, the family secrets caught within them – steeps the pages of her immersive page-turning fiction. She lives in Oxford with her husband and three children and a very hairy golden retriever, Harry. (Photo credit: Goodreads author page/Bio credit: Publisher author page)