By a lucky chance, I happened to hear yesterday about Caroline Sandon's novel Burnt Norton, and despite the fact that my TBR shelves are groaning, I promptly bought the book. Caroline and her family live at Burnt Norton in Gloucestershire - the Burnt Norton which inspired the first part of Eliot's Four Quartets - and it's the history of the house and its then owners, the Keyts, which she has used as the basis of her novel:
"1731: When his youngest son is killed in a tragic accident, Sir William Keyt, master of Norton House, buries himself in his fortune. He builds a second vast mansion on his grounds, squandering money he does not have on luxury his family does not want. Keyt has long been blind to the desires of others. His eldest son has fallen in love with their young maidservant, Molly Johnson, a ray of light in a household dimmed by tragedy. Keyt wants Molly for himself and, driven mad with lust and jealousy, he will do anything to have her..."
Click here to listen to a short radio interview with Caroline in which she describes how she came to write the book and how she boldly contacted Julian Fellowes to ask a favour!
Eva Rice's new novel The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp comes out in paperback next month, and reviews describe it as "eminently readable ... dense with detail and richly filmic," and "brilliantly written, hugely engaging."
"It's 1962, the dawn of the swinging sixties. Seventeen-year-old vicar's daughter Tara sings at a wedding, and discovered, is taken up to London to make a record. In Chelsea, she falls under the spell of two men, inadvertently invents the mini-skirt and has a surreal encounter in an endangered Victorian house with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones and architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner.
In a coming-of-age love story, set in the depths of the West Country and in the capital city, can Tara hold on to who she really is while those around her do their best to change her, and can she piece together fragments of her broken childhood to make sense of the person she is becoming?"
Another August release is Katherine Webb's The Misbegotten, "a spellbinding and unsettling novel, and a thrilling and passionate tale of insidious lies ..." is set in Bath in 1821.
"Rachel Crofton escapes the binds of her unhappy employment as a governess by marrying a charming self-made businessman. She sees a chance to create the family and home she has so long been without, but her new life soon takes an unexpected turn.
Through her new husband's connections, Rachel is invited to become the companion of the reclusive Jonathan Alleyn, a man tortured by memories of the Peninsular War, and tormented by the disappearance of his childhood sweetheart, Alice.
Starling, foundling servant to the Alleyn family, is convinced that Alice, the woman she loved as a sister, was stolen from her. Did Alice run away? Or did something altogether more sinister occur?
Rachel's arrival has an unsettling effect on the whole Alleyn household, and suddenly it seems that the dark deeds of the past will no longer stay contained. Shattering truths lurk behind Bath's immaculate façades, but the courage Rachel and Starling need to bring these truths to light will come at a very high price."