Published by Penguin/Michael Joseph
Available in ebook, audiobook & hardback (14 May 2020) | paperback (7 January 2021)
Source: Copy received for review via Netgalley
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 . . .
From the author of Black Rabbit Hall, The Glass House is an emotional, thrilling book about family secrets and belonging – and how we find ourselves when we are most lost.
Told over two timelines and by three voices, The Glass House tells of how family secrets can have far reaching consequences.
In summer 1971, 20 year old Rita Murphy takes a job as nanny with the Harrington family. Initially living in London, they are forced to move to the family’s unused and unloved home in the Forest of Dean. For personal reasons, Rita doesn’t like forests and living at Foxcote Manor makes her feel quite uncomfortable and spooked. Jeannie Harrington is suffering from depression after losing a baby, her children 5 year old Teddy and 12 year daughter Hera have noticed the withdrawal of their mother and cling to Rita. Matters are not helped when Rita is asked by Jeannie’s husband, Walter, to be a ‘spy’ and report to him on his wife’s mental state whilst he is working away from home. When an abandoned baby is found in the woods and taken in by the family, a course of action is set, the repercussions of which none of them could have forseen.
In the present time, 40 year old make-up artist Sylvie Broom is having to deal with family issues and traumatic events of her own.
This is very much a slower paced character driven story and despite the inclusion of a dead body, it’s not a crime story. It’s more of a domestic drama with a mystery which builds slowly. The dark and sometimes forbidding imagery of the forest added to the building tension and to the possibility of an explosive situation erupting.
The links between the dual timeframe is done very well – each timeline ending on a cliff-hanger so that you’re left keen to know what happened next. Sylvie was an engaging character and I found her story just as absorbing as the earlier timeline, even if at times some things were signposted a little too much.
I don’t want to talk about the plot and risk spoiler territory, but the main characters are so well developed – the adult Harringtons were not particularly pleasant people and the family seemed rather dysfunctional in their own way. Marge, the gossipy housekeeper was someone you instinctively didn’t trust. Hera was a troubled child and clearly affected by her mother’s lack of attention. My favourite however was ‘big Rita’, so called because of her height. Despite being so young herself, she had a nurturing manner and tried to offer stability to the children when Jeannie was clearly unable to. Rita clearly had her own heartache and insecurities, for reasons which are slowly revealed.
I really enjoyed The Glass House. The writing is evocative with vivid description, superb characterisation and the two timelines are bought together in a way that is both satisfactory and surprising.
And if you will excuse me, I’m off to look at terrariums. I want one!
My thanks to Gaby Young of Penguin for the tour invitation and for providing the review copy via Netgalley.
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.