Book Review: The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan

When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Firecombe Manor during the long languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton whose only traces remain in a few tantalisingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish?
As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes even more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph- and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth's.

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 448 

I was very attracted to this book when I saw a few reviews comparing it to Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I can see why comparisons have been made but I think this book had a very different feel to it.
The book flits between two characters, Alice Eveleigh and Lady Elizabeth Stanton; Alice in 1933 and Elizabeth at least a generation before. Alice is in disgrace after falling pregnant to a married man. She has come to Firecombe to have her baby in secret. She comes across a few photographs of Elizabeth Stanton and is intrigued by the woman who used to live in the house. Mrs Jelphs is the current housekeeper and she used to be Elizabeth's maid but she will not talk of her old mistress which just intrigues Alice even more. As Alice begins to discover Firecombe's tragic past she begins to wonder how it will affect the present; there is a lot of bad feeling in the house and she begins to question whether it is a place of safety for her or not.
I liked both Alice and Elizabeth but I found Elizabeth's story slightly more interesting. It becomes very clear that she suffered from post-natal depression but in those times it was not recognised and women were often locked in asylums  and deemed insane. The treatment Elizabeth received altered her forever and effectively tore her family apart. It was fascinating to see how post-natal depression was viewed at the time and the treatment that women received.
Kate Riordan has written an interesting and enticing book. The tension is very high in places but there were a few parts that I felt were a little too long. I did like how she brought the characters of Alice and Elizabeth together. The subtle way in which she intertwined their stories was very good.
I love books that are set in big houses and go back and forth in time. The Girl in the Photograph has a very good plot and interesting characters, I would highly recommend.

Many thanks to Penguin for allowing me to read a review copy of this book via Netgalley.


Nadia A said...

I received this book to review as well, but its called Fiercombe Manor here in the States. I'm starting it later this week and after reading your post I can't wait :)

jessicabookworm said...

I like the sound of this book as I also love books set in big houses with dual time periods.

Dot said...

Oooh I hope you enjoy it Nadia, think I like the US title more!

Me too Jessica, I love imagining what the house would look like. We've just moved to a little village and there's a big old country house that I'm completely intrigued by!

BOOK REVIEW: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist. After all, life isn't a scene from the movies is it? But then, through a m...