ARC from Netgallery
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.
Alice is sent to Fiercombe manor in 1933, in disgrace after a one night sexual relationship with a married man leaves her pregnant. Elizabeth’s husband built Fiercombe manor for her, after a a series of miscarriages Elizabeth is pregnant and hoping it is a boy to please her husband. The book is cleverly written, alternating between Elizabeth’s story in 1890’s and Alice’s story in the 1930’s, slowly revealing hidden secrets.
This isn’t the sort of book I usually read, but I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing the differences and the similarities between the two people. Despite it only being about forty years apart, in my mind it seemed like a larger gap between the two lives. The issue I find with two narratives, is that one is usually more interesting than another. In this case, Elizabeth’s story was definitely gripping and hauntingly sad, with no one liking to talk about her or what happened. Alice’s narrative involved her trying to uncover what really happened to Elizabeth and her baby having created a bond in her mind with Elizabeth after finding her diary.
I found the description of post-partum depression, and the explanation of how people with it were dealt, particularly interesting – being treated like maniac, locked away in asylums. However, there were many parts of the book that were very slow.
The book is worth a read, as I can still remember vivid details despite finishing the book months ago.