I raced through a book last week. Yes, raced is the proper word because the story hooked me immediately and made me want to keep reading as fast as possible. If I'd had a large time frame, I'd probably have read it one sitting. Instead, I devoured as much as I could each of three evenings til I'd finished.
Natasha Solomons' The House At Tyneford is historical fiction, a tribute to a English country estate house, and a romance. It begins in Vienna, 1938, when Elise Landau is 19. She lives a charmed life with her novelist father and opera singer mother and older sister. The family is Jewish and out of concern for their safety, they arrange to go to America. But a visa for Elise is delayed and she is sent to serve as a housemaid at a large country home in England. Frightened, alone, and inept as a maid, Elise makes friends with the owner's son, Kit. The story follows Elise into the war years, her desperate longing for news of her parents and sister. The reader watches her mature and change with each new hurdle she must clear. It ended as I knew it would, but even though I'd figured it out long before the final page, it satisfied me.
The author lives in Dorset, England. The House At Tyneford is her second novel. The debut novel, Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English sits by my chair waiting for me to open it this evening. I most certainly am looking forward to doing so.
These are a few quotes by others who have read the Tyneford book. Look for it at your library or bookstore, or for you e-reader. The book was published in England under the title The Book In The Viola. I'm wondering why the American version has a different title.
"Both a love story set during the Second World War and an elegy to the English country house . . . the greatest pleasure of the novel is its stirring narrative and the constant sense of discovery."(-Times Literary Supplement (London) )
"A vivid and poignant story about hope, loss, and reinvention."(-Psychologies Magazine (UK) )
"Natasha Solomons has written a lovely, atmospheric novel full of charming characters and good, old fashioned storytelling. Fans ofDownton Abbey and Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden will absolutely adore The House at Tyneford."(-Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of Home Front )
"The House at Tyneford is a wonderful, old-fashioned novel that takes you back in time to the manor homes, aristocracy and domestic servants of England. In this setting, Natasha Solomons gives us a courageous heroine whose incredible love story will keep you in suspense until the final page."(-Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House )
"The House at Tyneford is an exquisite tale of love, family, suspense, and survival. Capturing with astonishing detail and realism a vanished world of desire and hope trapped beneath rigid class convention, Natasha Solomons's stunning new novel tells the story of Elise Landau, a Jewish Austrian teenager from a family of artists, who is forced to flee her home in Vienna carrying only a guide to household management and her father's last novel, hidden on pages stuffed inside a viola. Elise hides as a parlor maid in a fine English country estate, but soon she discovers that passion can be found in the most unexpected places. Already a bestseller in Britain, American readers will thrill to The House at Tyneford."(-Katherine Howe, author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane )