Blurb from Goodreads
A house full of history is bound to have secrets…
Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…
Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.
While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…
A hauntingly beautiful story of love and hope, from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book and The Summer of Impossible Things
I have read a number of Rowan Coleman novels over the year and for the most part have really enjoyed them. Especially her last book, The Summer of Impossible Things so I was really happy when I was granted the ARC for this her latest release just this week.
But sadly I couldn’t get into this story at all.
I really felt that this book didn’t truly know what genre of book it wanted to be. Not that a book has to be a particular genre, but this felt so bitty to me. I thought there were too many threads running through the book that never truly came together in a perfectly woven manner.
Primarily, the book follows Trudy who has recently become widowed and moves back into her family home where her mother still lives with her son Will. But thus family home is like no other. It is an old house, named Ponden Hall, that is of historical significance because Emily Brontë (of Wuthering Heights fame) was a frequent visitor to the house and it is said to have inspired some aspects of Wuthering Heights (including the box bed).
The novel then tries to incorporate a ghost story into the mix whereby Trudy finds old letters written by Emily Brontë. Emily apparently had uncovered letters written by a young girl named Agnes which Trudy discovers inspired Emily Brontë’s second novel… Agnes is thought, by both Emily in the past and Trudy in the present, to be a ghost that haunts Ponden Hall. And so the narrative is frequently broken up with letters written from Agnes’ point of view as she relates her pitiful tale of lost love, murder and unfounded accusals.
Because I was!!!
It just felt so illogical. And don’t get me wrong. I love a good gothic-style novel with a ghostly twist but this felt awkward and poorly paced to me.
And then on top of that storyline the book also flashed back to when Trudy met her husband Abe and tried to show us about that love story. And to me that too didn’t work. Too much jumping back and forth between timelines and plot lines and just an utter lack of cohesion.
I don’t think there was one character in this book that I ever truly felt was authentic either. No character that I ever felt empathy for.
- Trudy was incredibly bland as an MC. She was sad. I get it. But I totally found her almost void of other emotion. Very one dimensional in my opinion.
- The flash backs to her husband Abe were quite stilted meaning that it was impossible to ever truly get a sense of the scope of her love story with her husband.
- Trudy’s mum was painfully underdeveloped and any opportunity to fully explore their mother-daughter relationship was sacrificed for the sake of tidiness of the ending.
- There was a character named Marcus that I can’t really discuss because of spoilers but his arc was entirely laughable and incredulous.
- Trudy’s son Will was tolerable I guess…
I think my problem was when reading this book it was impossible to not compare it to the passionate nature of Wuthering Heights. And sadly for Rowan Coleman her characters are no where near as memorable as Cathy and Heathcliff.
Probably my least favourite Rowan Coleman. If you’re looking for a much better book by this author then try The Summer of Impossible Things, Dearest Rose (also known as The Runaway Wife), Lessons in Laughing Out Loud or The Accidental Mother. This one just really wasn’t my cup of tea.
An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Penguin Random House UK Ebury Publishing, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.