17 February 2015

Today's Read: Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan

Imagine it's the 1930s and you've foolishly entangled yourself with a married man. What would happen if you found yourself pregnant? On the insistence of her mother, 20-year-old Alice Eveleigh pretends to be a widow, fleeing London to wait the birth of her child under the care of an old family friend.

Fiercombe is a place of secrets. They fret among the uppermost branches of the beech trees and brood at the cold bottom of the stream that cleaves the valley in two. The past has seeped into the soil here like spilt blood. If you listen closely enough, you can almost hear what's gone before, particularly on the stillest days. Sometimes the very air seems to hum with anticipation. At other times it's as though a collective breath has been drawn in and held. It waits, or so it seems to me.
Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan (HarperCollins / Harper, 2015, p. 1 [ARC])

Quick Facts
  • Setting: 1930s and 1890s England (the Cotswolds)
  • Circumstances: In the 1930s, Alice is sent to a country manor to give birth to her illegitimate child and then leave him or her at an orphanage. In the 1890s Lady Elizabeth Stanton is pregnant for the second time, praying that she'll give her husband the son he desires. As Alice wanders the empty manor (the owners live abroad), she uncovers secrets about Elizabeth and begins to fear for her own safety.
  • Characters: Alice Eveleigh, pregnant and unmarried; Elizabeth Stanton, lady of the manor, no longer living on the estate; Edith Jelphs, housekeeper of the manor; Tom Stanton, heir to the estate; various family members and people in London and in the Cotswolds
  • Genre: historical mystery with strong Gothic elements
  • Plot device: Told in alternating chapters: Alice as she explores her temporary home and Elizabeth as she worries about what her husband will do if her pregnancy doesn't turn out as planned.
  • Some themes: treatment of women, pregnancy, mental health, women under the control of men, secrets, marriage, love
  • Early thoughts: Riordan's descriptions of the setting are vivid and the characters are believably flawed. The premise intrigues me: uncovering secrets, hearing unexplained sounds, and wondering what happened to Elizabeth and why she is scared. Reviews, however, have been mixed, citing disappointment with the ending, a weak creep factor, and an unoriginal plot. I'm going to reserve judgment until I finish reading.


Anonymous,  2/17/15, 6:16 AM  

This does sound like a book I'd read. I like how you've shared extra details like setting and so on.

My teaser is from Look Closer.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 2/17/15, 7:05 AM  

Oh yes, "great minds think alike" LOL

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms 2/17/15, 7:18 AM  

Firecode Manor sounds really good, Beth! I haven't heard of it before, but I think it's a story I'd really enjoy.
Thanks for sharing.

Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

Nadene @Ttly Addicted 2 Reading 2/17/15, 7:30 AM  

This sounds like an intneresting read. My TBR is surely growing.
Here is mine

rhapsodyinbooks 2/17/15, 7:31 AM  

The cover has a lot of appeal, as does anything in or about the Cotswolds.

sherry fundin 2/17/15, 8:14 AM  

A terrible position to be in no matter what era. Thanks for sharing.
sherry @ fundinmental My TT

Unknown 2/17/15, 8:31 AM  

Sounds like an interesting plot.

Mine this week is from a spy thriller: http://pdworkman.com/excerpt-from-blood-line/

Sarah's Book Shelves 2/17/15, 8:34 AM  

The first 2 Tuesday Intros I've looked at today were for this book! I'm not sure it's for me, but I hope it goes better for you than the reviews :)

bermudaonion 2/17/15, 8:59 AM  

Oh man, I bet my mom would love that book!

grammajudyb 2/17/15, 9:15 AM  

This one sounds interesting. I will watch for your review.

Kay 2/17/15, 9:18 AM  

Just like on Diane's blog, the phrase "it waits..." intrigues me. She's right - great minds! LOL

Catherine @ Book Club Librarian 2/17/15, 9:20 AM  

I'm waiting for a library copy of this one. Love the author, the setting, and the era. Hope to get it soon. Enjoy!

My Tuesday post: http://www.bookclublibrarian.com/2015/02/first-chapter-first-paragraph-94.html

Tea 2/17/15, 9:40 AM  

Yes, Bibliophile by The Sea has this same book. I like it. Enjoy. Is it still snowing?

Laurel-Rain Snow 2/17/15, 10:14 AM  

Everything about this book tempts me...the premise, the setting, and the alternating narrators.

I definitely want to read more.

Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

Monica's Bookish Life 2/17/15, 10:17 AM  

This book looks really good and like something I'd enjoy. I'd keep reading!

Alice Audrey 2/17/15, 10:32 AM  

It's poetic. Is the whole book like that?

Unknown 2/17/15, 11:03 AM  

I have seen this in recent weeks, and it sounds like something I would read.

My Tuesday Teaser

Juli Rahel 2/17/15, 11:23 AM  

I still really like this beginning, it just makes me so curious for this place! I'd love to keep reading because there has to be a mystery there which I need to explore! Thanks for sharing :) Hope you have a great week!
My Tuesday post
Juli @ Universe in Words

kayerj 2/17/15, 11:45 AM  

I'm pretty sure I would love this one. I just added it to my goodreads list. Kelley at the road goes ever ever on

Sandra Nachlinger 2/17/15, 12:31 PM  

Sounds like there are many layers to this story! I enjoyed the description in the opening. The author did a great job of setting the mood.
Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment.

Literary Feline 2/17/15, 1:04 PM  

These were such interesting time periods. I like the sound of this one. I am drawn to books that straddle two time lines. I'll be curious to know what you think when you finish.

Unknown 2/17/15, 1:58 PM  

I do love the melodramatics revolving around this time era. It's almost always a tragic romantic dish served well :) Great post!

​My Teaser

Anonymous,  2/17/15, 2:23 PM  

Sounds fascinating, would definitely read this one.

Unknown 2/17/15, 9:22 PM  

I couldn't imagine how lost and alone, afraid, she must have been. I hope she finds some happiness. I'd like to read it.

My TT - http://fuonlyknew.com/2015/02/17/teaser-tuesdays-102-the-loch-by-steve-alten/

Margot 2/17/15, 10:24 PM  

I thought your first paragraph was better than the book's first paragraph. You convinced me to give the book a try. It sound like a good mystery.

Andie 2/17/15, 11:34 PM  

What a predicament to be in. Sounds like an interesting read.
Here's mine:

Daryl 2/19/15, 2:21 PM  

sounds good but i will wait to hear what you think when you're done

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