Rating: 5 out of 5
The new novel from bestselling author Rachel Hore, much loved for her stories in which past and present are grippingly entwined.When Emily Gordon, editor at a London publishing house, commissions an account of great English novelist Hugh Morton, she finds herself steering a tricky path between Morton’s formidable widow, Jacqueline, who’s determined to protect his secrets, and the biographer, charming and ambitious Joel Richards. But someone is sending Emily mysterious missives about Hugh Morton’s past and she discovers a buried story that simply has to be told…
One winter’s day in 1948, nineteen year old Isabel Barber arrives at her Aunt Penelope’s house in Earl’s Court having run away from home to follow her star. A chance meeting with an East European refugee poet leads to a job with his publisher, McKinnon & Holt, and a fascinating career beckons. But when she develops a close editorial relationship with charismatic young debut novelist Hugh Morton and the professional becomes passionately personal, not only are all her plans put to flight, but she finds herself in a struggle for her very survival.
Rachel Hore’s intriguing and suspenseful new novel magnificently evokes the milieux of London publishing past and present and connects the very different worlds of two young women, Emily and Isabel, who through their individual quests for truth, love and happiness become inextricably linked.
I loved this book. I have really enjoyed all of Rachel Hore‘s books; each of them has been highly rated. I lost my reading bug a few months ago as I have recently given birth and I was too tired and busy to read. This is the first book in a while that has captured my attention and made me long for a few minutes to myself so I can read a couple more pages.
The story follows Emily and Isabel, two women moving in the world of publishing, but many years apart. Emily is given the opportunity to oversee the publishing of a new biography of the famous author Hugh Morton. She is quickly sucked into his world, and the world of Isabel, as someone keeps leaving her extracts from Isabel’s diary. Emily is determined to see Isabel’s story told – the girl who ran away from home and entered publishing by chance. Here she fell in love with Hugh but marriage changed her. What ever became of her? And could Emily get past Hugh’s widow to let the story of Hugh’s first wife out?
I am a huge fan of Rachel Hore and get very excited every time a new novel is released. I like that she is an author who isn’t churning out more than one novel a year and that her books don’t seem samey after a while. She has a similar style to Kate Morton, another author I love reading. Hore’s books are not quite as long though! I find Hore’s novels draw me in and immediately I want to sit and read the whole thing in one go (and I would of done, if I didn’t have a baby and husband to look after!)
I instantly liked Emily and did find myself envying her job – she gets to read books all the time! I loved getting a glimpse into the world of publishing; hardcore but a lot of fun discovering now authors and talents. I found myself liking Isabel a lot too and really empathising with her throughout the novel. She had to face a lot – finding a job in a world that didn’t think women should be educated, falling in love with an older man and competing with a woman who was in love with her husband. Not only that, but she had to face post-natal depression; an illness not recognised back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I thought all of this was dealt with very well by Hore. She addressed the issue in a sensitive manner but didn’t hide how hard it must be to suffer so soon after giving birth.
This was a well told story. Hore moves between the present day and the past seamlessly and I always knew where in the story I was. She writes really well. I often find when I am reading that the grammar in many books is appealing – things such as sentence structure are simply shocking. However, I didn’t find that with Hore. The writing drew me in, it didn’t distract me and annoy me. I loved the fact this novel isn’t “chick-lit”. It is well written fiction, with a historical twist and a romance. There is much more to the book than the latest love affair. We see life in the 1950’s; we see what the publishing world might be like then and now and we see two strong, independent women striving through life and being a success.
I have rated this book 5 out of 5 because I loved it. I loved how well it was written; I loved the story lines and the characters; but most of all I loved that this is the first book I have wanted to read in a long time and it is the book that has returned my reading bug. For me, this is easily a top rated book.