Oliver has spent years trying to convince himself that he's suited to a life of money making in the city, and that he doesn't miss a childhood spent in pursuit of mystery, when he cycled around the cobbled lanes of Oxford, exploring its most intriguing corners.
When his girlfriend Kate inherits a derelict house - and a fierce family feud - she's determined to strip it, sell it and move on. For Oliver though, the house has an allure, and amongst the shelves of discarded, leather bound and gilded volumes, he discovers one that conceals a hidden diary from the 1920s.
So begins a quest: to discover the identity of the author, Sophia Louis. It is a portrait of war and marriage, isolation and longing and a story that will shape the future of the abandoned house - and of Oliver - forever.
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published November 3rd 2016 by Tinder Press
|There was something completely captivating about this dual timeline novel! It is one of those understated books with no big action scenes, or shocking twists, that just really charmed me and kept me enthralled from start to finish! And the cover is rather beautiful too!! I need that wallpaper!!|
The basis of the story is following the couple Kate and Oliver from the moment they met as schoolchildren to the present day where their lives seem to be moving in different directions, and they both seem unable to decide the best way forward. Kate is then left a house in a will, and Oliver remembers the house from when they first met and seemed to be under its' spell from that moment and his connection to the house just grows the more time he spends there renovating it while Kate is working in New York.
Oliver then stumbles across an old diary about the mysterious Sophie and her life is instantly brought to life through her words and completely takes over all Olivers' thoughts and actions. Kate seems less and less interested in the house and the family squabbles it has caused so just wants to sell it on, but Oliver is so drawn into the family drama through the diary he wants to know more and even gets in touch with the other family disputing the will and finds those relatives are not quite as Kate has portrayed them.
I loved the character of Oliver as his quest for knowledge about who Sophia was in relation to Kate, and to know more about her story started giving his life meaning and unlocked the passion he had for history. He seemed to will the house to bring history alive and turns into a detective to unlock the secrets that have been hidden for so long.
And Sophia's storyline was equally as important and stunningly told, in her own words, and the struggles she faced throughout her life at the house and why she went to the lengths she did to pass on her story and her need to share such things with whoever found her words in the future.
This book is full of all that family life throws at us - secrets, heartache, lies - and just the power that a well told story can have over someone living in a different time. Full of fascinating characters and some challenging storylines I found it to be a delight to read.