Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons

Book: The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
Genre: Historical Fiction
For: Read Along
From: Bought at Changing Hands bookstore in Arizona


I really loved this book. But I knew I would. It was just what I needed, an adult historical romance in among all the YA dystopia and MG fantasy I've been reading of late.

This book tells the story of a girl from Vienna Austria, who, just before WWII is about to start, goes to live as a domestic servant in a big manor house in England. This is because her family can feel the imminent threat to Jewish people, and they send her there to protect her, while they wait for Visas to go to America. The plan is that everyone will meet up in about a year's time, in America.

In reading the author note that follows the book, this is in fact what many families did to survive. I'd never heard of it before, but I guess this is what the author's great aunt did, thus the inspiration for the story. She was also inspired by the stories of beautiful seaside English houses that were taken over by the army during the war. She based this on one a specific village called Tyneham.

The house at Tyneham.
Of course the story goes on to tell of the relationships the girl makes in England, the attachment she forms with the land and the house, and the worry she has over what's happening with her family that she left behind.... all of which make for a wonderful tale.

As mentioned last week, I loved the writing style, full and rich and easy. I loved the characters, I loved the setting... a place a could easily see myself falling in love with and want to stay at forever. And of course I also loved all the tragedy, since I seem to be a sucker for those kind of stories!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS.... FULL OF SPOILERS... proceed with caution: 
(From our read along host:  Carrie at Books and Movies)

What is your opinion of where Mr. Rivers and Elise’s relationship ends up?

I thought it was great, despite the age difference. But it hurt and I couldn't forget about poor Kit. Still, I think they both ended up having wonderful happy lives because they decided to say what the heck to social mores and go with their hearts.

As you see it, what events led to Tyneford’s fate?

The war of course. I think no matter what else would have happened, the war is ultimately to blame.

What significance did Tyneford have to Elise, Kit, and Mr. Rivers?

As I've mentioned before, the setting should be considered a major character in this book. You really get a feel for its personality and its effect on everyone. I think the house permeated the very beings of all three of these characters....the Rivers men through birth and blood and Elise inherited it. It's the very essence of who they are. Which makes it all the sadder that things couldn't work out.

Can a place like Tyneford exist in today’s world?

I would have to say, not in the sense that it did during the time this book was written, but I still believe that a place, or a house or a location can have a profound impact on people and can get under their skin and change who they are. I would say my grandma's farm in Idaho would be such a place for me.

Why do you think the novel in the viola blank?

Ah, good question! Why indeed? Did her father put it in there blank? Gosh, that seems like a lot of trouble! I like the speculation that it was so she would write her own story, but still. I don't know.

Anyway. I'm so glad I managed to fit this one in just in time to join the last bit of the read along! It makes me realize that I need to be sure and keep historical fiction in my reading line up. Why do I neglect it so?

Bottom line: I loved it!

Other Reviews:

Books and Movies
The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Devourer of Books
Wicked Little Pixie


  1. Suey - I am so glad you read along with us! I do love historical fiction, too - both for the depth of the stories and the things I learn. I also like the interpretation that the novel was blank to tell Elise to write her own story, but I guess we'll never know if that's what the author intended! It still bugs me how long her sister held a grudge over the whole thing.

    Anyway, thanks again for joining us - it was so much fun reading this, knowing that you all were reading along with me.

    1. Carrie: Thanks for hosting... it was fun!

  2. I'm going to have to get my hands on this book. It sounds wonderful!

  3. Replies
    1. Melissa... Ah, sad! What didn't you like? Did you do a review? I'm going to look now....

  4. I'm going to have to borrow this one from you I think. I love when you read a book that is exactly what you needed and wanted.



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