Kate Riordan

Fiercombe Manor is a nicely atmospheric psychological mystery.  Rather than a “whodunit,” it’s more of a “whoamI.”  Set in 1933, a young, unmarried pregnant woman is sent to her mother’s country homelands in Gloucestershire to have the baby secretly and   hide the family shame.  Under fiercombe-manorthe guise of a widow, Alice  stays with a housekeeper in an aging country mansion of a wealthy family.  The book beautifully captures the dreaminess of an English summer for a young woman trying to decide what she really wants to do with her life in tandem with probing into the mysteries of the wealthy family’s ruined mansion, an abandoned summer house, and the history of a turn-of- the- century woman who married into the family and found her own independence and sanity swallowed up in Victorian views of women and motherhood.  Riordan moves her narrative beautifully back and forth between the two women’s stories, building suspense as to what happened to Elizabeth Stanton, what was the terrible crime associated with her, and the present-day Alice searching for her own way, while finding hope with the last remaining heir of the estate, himself troubled by a dark event in his past.

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