A Place of Secrets, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (8 ratings)

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THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER AND RICHARD & JUDY BOOKCLUB PICK The night before it all begins, Jude has the dream again ...Can dreams be passed down through families?

As a child Jude suffered a recurrent nightmare: running through a dark forest, crying for her mother.

Now her six-year-old niece, Summer, is having the same dream, and Jude is frightened for her.

A successful auctioneer, Jude is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband.

When she's asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham, a lonely 18th century astronomer, she leaps at the chance to escape London for the untamed beauty of Norfolk, where she grew up.

As Jude untangles Wickham's tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present.

What have Summer's nightmares to do with Starbrough folly, the eerie crumbling tower in the forest from which Wickham and his adopted daughter Esther once viewed the night sky?

With the help of Euan, a local naturalist, Jude searches for answers in the wild, haunting splendour of the Norfolk woods. Dare she leave behind the sadness in her own life, and learn to love again?Praise for Rachel Hore's novels: 'A tour de force.

Rachel's Paris is rich, romantic, exotic and mysterious' JUDY FINNIGAN 'An elegiac tale of wartime love and secrets' Telegraph 'A richly emotional story, suspenseful and romantic, but unflinching in its portrayal of the dreadful reality and legacy of war' Book of the Week, Sunday Mirror 'Pitched perfectly for a holiday read' Guardian 'Engrossing, pleasantly surprising and throughly readable' SANTA MONTEFIORE 'A beautifully written and magical novel about life, love and family' CATHY KELLY

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Showing 1 - 5 of 8 reviews.

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Review by
3

From fantastic fiction:The night before it all begins, Jude has the dream again ...Can dreams be passed down through families? As a child Jude suffered a recurrent nightmare: running through a dark forest, crying for her mother. Now her six-year-old niece, Summer, is having the same dream, and Jude is frightened for her. A successful auctioneer, Jude is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. When she's asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham, a lonely 18th century astronomer, she leaps at the chance to escape London for the untamed beauty of Norfolk, where she grew up. As Jude untangles Wickham's tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present. What have Summer's nightmares to do with Starbrough folly, the eerie crumbling tower in the forest from which Wickham and his adopted daughter Esther once viewed the night sky? With the help of Euan, a local naturalist, Jude searches for answers in the wild, haunting splendour of the Norfolk woods. Dare she leave behind the sadness in her own life, and learn to love again?I was totally disappointed with this book as I had heard so much good things about it. This book sounded right up my street. A mysterious folly, family secrets to be found, a love interest, gypsies in the wood. At one point I even thought the story was going to be about reincarnation. I found the book very sugary and not gritty enough for its content. Certain topics were picked upon but not followed through. Other times the story was predictable. I felt really let down with this one. Would I recommend this book: Well it’s not all bad and for a rainy Sunday afternoon it’s an OK read.

Review by
3

This is the story of Jude, a thirty-something widow, who works for a London firm of auctioneers. One day she takes a telephone call which leads to some work at Starbrough Hall in Norfolk valuing a collection of eighteenth century astronomy equipment, books and journals. Jude's family also comes from the area and the history of her family becomes intertwined with the writings of the enigmatic Esther in the journals. This novel follows Jude and her quest to unravel the mysteries uncovered by her work - who is Esther and what became of her? what happened to Gran's gypsy friend, Tamsin? and why is Jude's niece, Summer, having nightmares? It all centres around a folly built by the former owner of Starbrough Hall, Anthony Wickham, as a venue for his stargazing.In many ways I loved this book. I felt the underlying story worked well. It was a little slow-paced but the story was engaging and I felt compelled to read on to find out how things fell into place. There were some interesting sub-plots too such as Jude's somewhat dysfunctional family - it was refreshing to see the tension between Jude and her sister, Claire. I have a somewhat confusing friendly-frosty relationship with my own older sister so I was pleased for a complex sibling relationship to be portrayed rather than the best friend lovey-dovey sisterly relationships you normally get in books. Of course there is a love interest for Jude too - she is struggling to get over the tragic death of her young husband and it takes someone special to help her move on.However... this book was totally spoilt by weak writing and poor editing. Part three was particularly tedious with the mystery unfolding far too conveniently and everyone ending up related to everyone else. It also dragged on far too long, the family reunion in the Hall was painful to read - did Valerie really need to turn up, the author could easily have left her in Spain with no impact on the rest of the story? Then, when we'd got to the bottom of it all and the romance was off and running, the book kept on going with the exhibition at Madingsfield. Any gaps in the story which couldn't be filled in through academic research were revealed through Jude's own dreams - a lazy tool for writing I think.There was a lot of dialogue which was often twee and unconvincing. Jude was Little Miss Perfect, whilst everyone else had their faults she always knew the right thing to do and the right thing to say. No wonder her sister found her annoying! There were also moments in the book that just didn't ring true - for example, here are some quotes from when Jude first hears about Starbrough Hall:"Where on earth was Starbrough Hall though?"... "Jude flipped to a fresh page on her notepad and wrote 'Starbrough Hall' at the top in neat capitals, then stared at the words, trying to understand why they tugged at her memory."Well, it just happens to be the manor house in the area where Jude's family has lived for generations! Surely she'd have known that immediately. It might have been a good opportunity for the author to introduce her much-loved phrase "Oh, what a coincidence".This brings me to a pattern that is emerging when I read books written by authors who have worked in publishing. They invariably seem to be poorly edited - are these people beyond reproach? Other examples I am thinking of are 'Labyrinth' by Kate Mosse and 'Hunting Unicorns' by Bella Pollen. Both were good stories that could have been so much better with some assertive editing.Finally I can't let this go without a special mention for the proofreader. The Kindle edition at least was riddled with errors - whole passages went by with commas and full stops either missing or misplaced. Quite often speech marks were missing at the beginning of sentences so that you don't realise that someone is speaking until later on in the sentence. But most irritating of all is the use of the word 'discover' as a noun. It is not a noun, it is a verb , to discover. The correct singular of the word 'discoveries' is 'discovery'. Similarly, you don't look up a telephone number in a 'director' you use a 'directory'. Proofreading like that is unforgiveable.On balance I enjoyed the book and the story but I feel it is completely let down by the unprofessional publishing.

Review by
3

This book is like a puzzle, in which auctioneer Jude tries to discover what happened to astronomer Anthony Wickham and his daughter Esther in the eighteenth century. Their story is tragic and moving, I loved that. Jude's own story is less interesting, but that doesn't matter, since the focus lies on how she untangles what happened to the father and daughter. I must admit that there are an awful lot of coincidences to make the puzzle pieces fit together. You also have to go with the supernatural thing, in which both Jude and her niece have the same nightmares that explain what happened to Esther. Possibly there are ghosts too. Sometimes it is frustrating when the writer starts giving a clue, but then stops halfway and you have to wait for the rest. For example: grandma starts telling something important but then stops talking about it ; a colleague auctioneer thinks he has seen the crucial necklace before but doesn't remember when or where ; Jude reads Esther's diary but then gets a headache and stops reading ; and so on. I realise that for some this is adding to the suspense, but it is just annoying to me.And I was left with questions too. (You can skip this paragraph if you haven't read the book yet.) If the dreams were hereditary, then why did Jude and her niece dream about Rowan and not Esther? What scared Marty on the roof of the folly before he died? What was the white blur on grandma's picture of the folly? Did Jude's husband cheat on her or not? Why would Anthony keep Esther's diary in his library if it could prove he was not the rightful heir?Although I have my reservations, it was a good book.

Review by
5

A lot of reviews with similar thoughts to my own, so will just add that, I felt this book had been rushed in parts. Almost as if the author had been forced to hurry up the end. It felt as though too much time had been spent on on part of the story, and the end was merely a catchup.However, it was a good read, and i did like the parts of Esthers Diary, they did feel like the true diary of a young girl from the 18th century

Review by
5

This book had a complex storyline and it takes great skill to weave the threads of the book separately then coming together to bring the story to conclusion.The central character is Jude, who works at a London auctioneers house and by chance answers a ringing telephone in her office. The caller wants a valuation on a fascinating collection of early astronomical books and equipment which have been passed down through his family. On establishing that the seller is living in Jude's home town , where her Grandmother, sister and niece still live Jude agrees to go and visit the seller for an assessment. Once she has arrived in Norfolk she sees the collection is a fine example of 18th Century history and immediately sets about assessing the collection, and Jude stumbles across a set of journals of the astronomer Anthony Wickham and his daughter Ester. She asks the mother of the seller if there is any more details on the family, only to be told that Wickham did not have any children. Jude is immediately curious.Meanwhile, she sees her sister and niece and is suddenly aware that her niece is having dreams. Dreams that she too experienced as a child. Was this a coincidence? The seller of the collection then confirms that he is definitely going to sell the collection and Jude is then thrust into the world of the Wickhams. There is an Folly in the grounds and Jude is intrigued. In the forest surrounding the property she meets Euan, who by chance lives in the cottage her Grandmother lived in and we start to see the gentle threads of the complex story forming. Ester's journal is in some parts a summary of her early life, found as a young child by Wickham she is adopted as his heir, but later on we see that, after Wickham's death his wishes are not carried out. Over the course of a little more than 450 pages Rachel Hore weaves a complex story in which the lives of the Wickhams and Jude's family are connected, added to that are connections to other characters who do not appear until later in the book.This book has been painstakingly written, and although a work fiction there has been research undertaken using the methods available as if the storyline were real. Certainly my best read of the year so far and I am looking forward to more from this author.

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