The Girl in the Photograph/Fiercombe Manor-Kate Riordan
Upon finding herself in trouble in the 1920s, Alice is sent to a manor in the countryside where she seeks to find out what happened to the previous mistress of the manor, Elizabeth.
I know it’s right there in the publisher’s blurb but I just loved the atmosphere of this novel. There’s something not quite creepy but strange and discomforting atmosphere that Riordan builds up though it can feel a little sluggish at times. Nevertheless, the handling of the intertwining of the twin narratives is well done-not all the parallels are obvious nor are they ‘reaches’ nor do they ‘collide’. Furthermore, I commend Riordan for not using narrator switches as a tension device but rather letting the two stories unfold organically and using other methods to create the atmosphere. By setting the two narratives both in historical fiction, Riordan can explore details which alternatively hide and expose the secrets Alice seeks to clarify. The two heroines, Alice and Elizabeth, are products of their time, at the mercy of the attitudes towards pregnancy and mental health, and they are true to their context. As such, they are not anachronistic while still evoking an impressively strong array of emotions.