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Everyone has a dream of their perfect house - in the heart of the countryside, or perhaps a stately residence in the middle of a wonderful city? For Kate Hutchinson, the move to Suffolk from the tiny, noisy London terrace she shares with her husband Simon and their two young children was almost enough to make her dreams come true. Space, peace, a measured, rural pace of life have a far greater pull for Kate than the constantly overflowing in-tray on her desk at work. Moving in with her mother-in-law must surely be only a temporary measure before the estate agent's details of the perfect house fall through the letterbox. But when Kate, out walking one evening, stumbles upon the house of her dreams, a beautiful place, full of memories, it is tantalizingly out of her reach. Its owner is the frail elderly Agnes, whose story - as it unravels - echoes so much of Kate's own. And Kate comes to realize how uncertain and unsettling even a life built on dreams can be - wherever you are, at whatever time you are living and whoever you are with.
Photographer Lucy Cardwell has recently lost her troubled father, Tom. While sifting through his papers, she finds he'd been researching an uncle she never knew he'd had. She visits her father's childhood home, Carlyon Manor, and meets an old woman named with an extraordinary story to tell, about growing up in the 1930s; the families that will be swept up in the cataclysm of events that follow the dark cloud of war-- and how the ramifications reach down the generations.
In a tiny stained-glass shop hidden in the backstreets of Westminster lies the cracked, sparkling image of an angel. The owners of Minster Glass have also been broken: Fran Morrison's mother died when she was a baby; a painful event never mentioned by her difficult, secretive father Edward. Fran left home to pursue a career in foreign cities, as a classical musician. But now Edward is dangerously ill and it's time to return. Taking her father's place in the shop, she and his craftsman Zac accept a beguiling commission - to restore a shattered glass picture of an exquisite angel belonging to a local church. As they reassemble the dazzling shards of coloured glass, they uncover an extraordinary love story from the Victorian past, sparked by the window's creation. Slowly, Fran begins to see her own reflection in its themes of passion, tragedy and redemption. Fran's journey will lead her on a search for the truth about her mother, through mysteries of past times and the anguish of unrequited love, to reconciliation and renewal.
Lamorna Cove, in Cornwall's far west, is a tiny bay set at the mouth of a secluded wooded valley of wild beauty, the haunt, a hundred years ago, of a close-knit colony of artists. Here, to a rented cottage in the overgrown gardens of Merryn Hall, Melanie Pentreath retreats from her busy London life as a lecturer in art history to research a book about the painters, and to seek solace following the death of her mother and a broken love affair. In this magical place, full of echoes of the past, Mel helps her landlord, Patrick Winterton, restore the garden and starts to pull together the shreds of her life. Patrick finds some old paintings in a glory hole in one of the attics, and as they uncover the identity of the artist they are drawn into an extraordinary story of illicit passion and thwarted ambition from the Edwardian past which proves resonant in Mel's own life. Merryn is an idyll, and Mel and Patrick, himself here to escape a romantic disappointment, find themselves drawing closer to one another - until the reality of the outside world once more intervenes and everything is threatened.
London auctioneer Jude Gower is despatched to Wickham Hall near the North Norfolk coast to value a collection of eighteenth century astronomical instruments and manuscripts. As well as the archive, the house itself intrigues Jude: her great-grandfather was gamekeeper on the Wickham estate between the wars. On the drive up Jude stops to visit her grandmother, who alerts her to a mystery involving a folly on the estate, and someone she refers to only as 'the wild girl'. Amidst the cold classical beauty of Wickham Hall, Jude is welcomed by elderly Chantal Wickham. Chantal's husband died a year ago. Jude is deeply sympathetic because she, too, has lost her husband. Chantal's son is selling the collection to pay death duties. Since WWII the farm land has been sold off and Chantal's husband had to sell the woodland, including the ground where the folly stands. Now a developer has plans which will involve knocking it down. Though derelict, the folly has strong historical and sentimental meaning to the Wickham family, so they are particularly upset. As Jude catalogues the manuscripts and scientific instruments, she starts to amass a picture of Anthony Wickham, the lonely amateur atronomer who owned the Hall in the late eighteenth century, and his daughter Esther. She learns that the folly was built as an observatory: it stands in a clearing in the woods, its top just visible above the trees. From here Anthony and Esther made their important discoveries. And it is here Jude meets Euan, a local nature writer living in a gipsy caravan. As Jude uncovers the tragic story of Anthony and Esther, Euan reveals to her the healing powers of nature and the eternal stars. Gradually Jude learns to leave behind the tragedy in her own life, and to love again.
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.
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