I love nothing better than a book that offers me an old manor house, a diary, and plenty of secrets and that’s just what I got with Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan.
It’s 1933 when we meet twenty-two year old Alice who has disgraced her family and been sent to live at Fiercombe Manor until she births her baby. The owners Lord and Lady Stanton are not living there at the moment and have given her leave to stay there with Mrs. Jelphs, an old friend of her mothers, and the staff. Even as she is approaching Fiercombe Manor Alice feels a strange connection to the place. She feels that something has happened here but she doesn’t know what. It isn’t long though before she discovers that thirty years ago another woman lived there. It was Elizabeth Stanton and she too was expecting a child just like Alice. As Alice begins to uncover the mysteries behind Elizabeth, her husband Edward, and their daughter Isabel she finds more and more questions are raised. What exactly was wrong with Elizabeth? What happened to Elizabeth and her daughter Isabel? And even more puzzling is the housekeeper Mrs. Jelphs. Alice is sure she is hiding something, but what? There are also rumors that the valley is tainted; that children born there suffer a bad fate. All of this has Alice in a turmoil? Is she safe there? Is her baby?
The story alternates between Alice’s story and Elizabeth’s and their lives are surprisingly similar. Both women are pregnant, both are living under the rules of society at the time, and both feel very much alone. The author relates many of the issues that women had with pregnancy and their rights and she also touches on postnatal depression and how it was dealt with at that time in history. I knew quite a bit about that but it was interesting nonetheless.
The book is lengthy at 400 pages but that’s one of the things I liked about it. I like stories that unfold slowly especially if they are good and Fiercombe Manor is. I would recommend this book for those who enjoy gothic tales or historical fiction. I really enjoyed it!