EXCERPT: It’s easy to remember what it felt like to see Barnsley for the first time. Not in a photograph but in the flesh, the grand house appearing in front of me. The beauty of the limestone is hard to see in a photograph, and harder to explain. The stone is different to that of other houses in the area, softer somehow, and in the summer, Max said, it felt warm for weeks on end. Some days, when the sun was not strong enough to warm Daphne’s cold antipodean bones, she would lean up against the wall and hope that the warmth would penetrate through her summer dress and cardigan. That was before my time. It has only been cold, bitterly cold, since I have known it.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Miranda’s life and career has been a roller-coaster ride. Her successful rise to the top of the booming lifestyle industry as a social media influencer led to a humiliating fall after a controversial product she endorsed flopped. Desperate to get away from the hate-spewing trolls shaming her on the internet, she receives a mysterious letter from a young cousin in England that plunges her into a dark family mystery.
Miranda’s mother Tessa Summers, a famous author, died when Miranda was a child. The young woman’s only connection to the Summers family is through Tessa’s famous book The House of Brides—a chronicle of the generations of women who married into the infamous Summers family and made their home in the rambling Barnsley House, the family’s estate. From Gertrude Summers, a famed crime novelist, to Miranda’s grandmother Beatrice, who killed herself after setting fire to Barnsley while her children slept, each woman in The House of Brides is more notorious than the next. The house’s current “bride” is the beautiful, effervescent Daphne, her Uncle Max’s wife—a famed celebrity chef who saved Barnsley from ruin turning the estate into an exclusive culinary destination and hotel.
Curious about this legendary family she has never met, Miranda arrives at Barnsley posing as a prospective nanny answering an advertisement. She’s greeted by the compelling yet cold housekeeper Mrs. Mins, and meets the children and her Uncle Max—none of whom know her true identity. But Barnsley is not what Miranda expected. The luxury destination and award-winning restaurant is gone, and Daphne is nowhere to be found. Most disturbing, one of the children is in a wheelchair after a mysterious accident. What happened in this house? Where is Daphne? What darkness lies hidden in Barnsley?
MY THOUGHTS: Give me an old house full of family secrets and lies, and I purr like a cat with a dish of cream. Add a dysfunctional family and I am enraptured. Throw in a letter, a hidden notebook, a housekeeper reminiscent of Mrs Danvers, and a missing wife….nirvana!
The writing is hauntingly atmospheric, the characters perfectly drawn, and the plot gripping.
I read this overnight, and even while catching up on the housework today and listening to an audiobook, I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters in House of Brides.
One of my favourite passages is: ‘The truth is what you make it: add a little here and there, take away what you need. It’s a work in progress.’
THE AUTHOR: Jane Cockram was born and educated in Australia, where she studied Journalism at RMIT, majoring in Literature. The House of Brides is her debut novel.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The House of Brides by Jane Cockram for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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