Fiercombe Manor: A Novel

Fiercombe Manor: A Novel

by Kate Riordan

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In this haunting and richly imagined dual-narrative tale that echoes the eerie mystery of Rebecca and The Little Stranger, two women of very different eras are united by the secrets hidden within the walls of an English manor house.

In 1933, naive twenty-two year-old Alice—pregnant and unmarried—is in disgrace. Her mother banishes her from London to secluded Fiercombe Manor in rural Gloucestershire, where she can hide under the watchful eye of her mother’s old friend, the housekeeper Mrs. Jelphs. The manor’s owners, the Stantons, live abroad, and with her cover story of a recently-deceased husband Alice can have her baby there before giving it up for adoption and returning home. But as Alice endures the long, hot summer at Fiercombe awaiting the baby’s birth, she senses that something is amiss with the house and its absentee owners.

Thirty years earlier, pregnant Lady Elizabeth Stanton desperately hopes for the heir her husband desires. Tormented by the memory of what happened after the birth of her first child, a daughter, she grows increasingly terrified that history will repeat itself, with devastating consequences.

After meeting Tom, the young scion of the Stanton family, Alice becomes determined to uncover the clan’s tragic past and exorcise the ghosts of this idyllic, isolated house. But nothing can prepare Alice for what she uncovers. Soon it is her turn to fear: can she escape the tragic fate of the other women who have lived in the Fiercombe valley . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062332967
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/17/2015
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 194,427
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Kate Riordan is a British writer and journalist who worked for the Guardian and Time Out London. She is also the author of Birdcage Walk and is already at work on her third novel. Born in London, she now lives in the Gloucestershire countryside.

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Fiercombe Manor 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved how descriptive it was. Really bought a sense of the manor to life. The two narratives were interestingly intertwined. I was up in the air whether to buy it after the sample but I was so glad I did.
Sandra_Mason More than 1 year ago
Fiercombe Manor captures your imagination and your heart!  The story starts out slowly in 1933, when everything was unhurried and easygoing.   Enter Alice Eveleigh, a 22 year old unmarried typist who still lived at home with her parents.  She has to tell her parents that she is pregnant, and had unknowingly had an affair with a married man.  Suddenly their perfect daughter has caused a scandal and Mom and Dad have to scramble to hide the misdoing, so as not to be disgraced.   Her Mother contacts an old friend named Edith Jelps, who lives as a housekeeper in a lovely mansion.  She convincingly deceives her under the guise that her daughter is a widow, and needs quiet time away since the death of her husband.  The housekeeper moved by her story, reaches out to young Alice and gets permission for her to come to stay until the baby is born.   Everything is quiet, and peaceful.  The only people that Alice sees are Mrs. Jelps, Ruck the caretaker and Tom Stanton the owners son. The manor is isolated, and Alice feels it deeply.  She feels as though something is hidden, and speaks to Mrs. Jelps about the history of the manor and its occupants.  Mrs. Jelps briefly tells Alice about the former owners, and then becomes moody and short tempered when her questions keep coming.   When she isn’t helping Mrs. Jelps, she is exploring her surroundings which she comes to love.   She discovers a diary in the summerhouse. It belonged to Elizabeth Stanton, a former mistress of the older house called Stanton Hall.  She empathetically feels drawn to Elizabeth, her small daughter Isabelle and her dark secrets that the diary held, one of which is her failure to produce a male heir for her husband Edward. The characters are well interwoven, the descriptions of the manors, the town and the fauna are charmingly written.  The secrets within the manor, the mysteries surrounding the abandoned summer house, and the stanton house along with Alice’s fate are all revealed near the end of the book   The story of Alice and Elizabeth are interwoven into a masterpiece of similarities and differences which all come together in a powerful finale which will stay with you long after you have closed the book.  I give this story 5 magical stars.  
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Fiercombe Manor, a quaint home nestled away from the beaten path, becomes a new temporary residence for Alice, who has turned up pregnant and unwed, a place to wait out her pregnancy until the child is born and can be given away for adoption. Under the watchful eye of the long time housekeeper, Alice entertains herself, and stumbles upon the fascinating history of the previous grand dame of the manor, a woman named Lady Elizabeth Stanton. What she uncovers is a tale of lies and secrets, long buried.  I cannot express how much I enjoyed reading this novel. First, there is a touch of the gothic sprinkled with a fascinating mystery. Damaged relationships, forgiveness, and healing, are all underlying themes. Old letters, secret places, and closed off rooms, add to the atmosphere. Then there is a touch of romance, and of course, finally, the reconciling of past and present. Every page, from start to finish, captured my imagination. The story held me enthralled until the most satisfying ending. The author did a wonderful job of describing furnishings, secret hiding places, and tantalizing the reader by keeping the mystery slow to unravel. It is the kind of book you will clutch to your chest, and breath a heavy sigh of satisfaction when the last page is read. One of my favourite books, for sure!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good read. I could not put this book down. I will purchase other books by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it Please make her other works available to us. Example:"Birdcage Walk"
Twink More than 1 year ago
I love old houses and forgotten corners - there are so many stories to be told and remembered.  Kate Riordan's latest book, Fiercombe Manor has one of those stories.... 1933 England. Young (and naive) Alice Eveleigh has gotten herself into 'trouble' with a married man. Her mother calls upon an old friend to take Alice in until the baby is born. That friend, Mrs. Jelphs, is the housekeeper of a old manor in a forgotten corner of the Gloucestershire countryside. Mrs Jelphs and old gardener Ruck are the only two staff (and residents) of the Stanton estate. All the elements are there for the perfect Gothic mystery - young, curious woman, old retainers, crumbling house with closed off rooms, secrets alluded to, and clues to the past. Riordan seals the deal with a delicious piece of foreshadowing..... "When I think back to the memory, that first glimpse of Fiercombe Manor and the valley it seemed almost entombed in, I cannot recall any sense of unease......It seems amazing in light of what happened, but I can't say I felt any foreboding about the valley at all." " I could never have imagined all that would happen in those few short months and how, by the end of them, my life would be irrevocably altered forever." Riordan's novel is told in a past and present narrative. The past is from thirty years early and is Lady Elizabeth Stanton's story. Old letters that Alice uncovers begin to fill in the past for her, but the reader is privy to more through Elizabeth's voice. I found myself reacting more to Elizabeth's timeline, caught up in the past. "There's an atmosphere, though, as if something of what's gone before is still here, like an echo or a reflection in a dark pool." Cue delicious tingle.....are there ghosts? Can the past reach out to the present? Is the sad history of Fiercombe Manor going to be repeated? Riordan's setting is wonderfully drawn - I could easily imagine the uneven stone floors, the crumbling outbuildings, the gardens and the dusty rooms. Time is also well done, with the social graces and mores of both time periods captured. Riordan also explores an issue that has a foot firmly in the present. (Sorry, I'm being deliberately oblique so as not to spoil the book for future readers) This novel is fairly lengthy at 400+ plus pages, but I enjoyed the slow unfurling of this novel. Riordan keeps the reader in the dark until the final chapters - and only then reveals the end of Elizabeth's story. Alice's story has a fairytale ending, perfect for this tale. (I have a 'thing' for covers. I loved this one - I wanted to go exploring myself!) Fiercombe Manor is best read in a comfy armchair within a lamp's circle of light with the wind whistling outside at night. Oh, and a pot of tea.
gaele More than 1 year ago
Remember the first moments when Jane Eyre first meets Thornfield? That broody and slightly grey-tinged bleakness that sends a shudder.  Riordan manages to incorporate much of that same feeling into Fiercombe Manor, another grand old house with a history that isn’t at first apparent.   Told in two perspectives: Alice, the more current woman of 1933 and her counterpart from thirty-odd years earlier Lady Elizabeth.  This  story twists and turns, as the two reveal their stories to unearth an unexpected connection that is far more than their pregnancies.   Tucked into the Gloucestershire countryside, this manor house has become Alice’s refuge as she waits for her child, conceived out of wedlock to be born. Lord and Lady Stanton are not in residence, so Alice’s only company is the housekeeper, a friend of her mother, and a skeleton staff.  Alice was an enjoyable character, intelligent, curious and determined to find out the secrets of the house.  Her relationship with her mother is understandably strained because of her pregnancy and its resulting family disgrace, and sending her away is the best option.  Lady Elizabeth, some thirty years earlier is awaiting the birth of her child, fervently hoping for a boy to please her husband.  Her own concerns about her first pregnancy and worries over disappointing her husband by not fulfilling her role as his wife are preying on her.  The house doesn’t help: there are secrets here and the home is said to be haunted: imagery aplenty for two women who, ultimately, are  unhappy with their lot in life.  While compelling, there are places where the story does drag and the correlation of the two stories feels repetitive, even though only tangentially in reality.  The characters are well-developed and feel honest: most intriguing is the treatment of both women: the expectations, scorn, shunning and even the mystery surrounding Elizabeth’s first child Isabelle. The correlations between the women feeling trapped and confined by house and circumstances, and the changes in medical approaches to pregnancy and post-partum depression are interesting and add layers of questions and interest.   Slowly the secrets of the house are revealed and Alice comes to unearth secrets long buried in the history of Fiercombe, with  connections that no one quite expected. A lovely story to curl up with: this was not especially a read that I couldn’t put down, but I was intrigued and engaged to such a degree that I looked forward to getting back to it. Perfect for historical fiction fans.  I received an eArc copy of this title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A dull manne as to have one ask is the book as boribg as that. Frankly suspect there is going to be switched babies which was done very well in a sawyer penhallow try sample to clear your reading taste in doubt borrow as i did not a keeper just a few hours ebtertainmebt sans tv m.a.@sparta