Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review -- The House at Tyneford

The House at Tyneford: A Novel
My enjoyment rating: 2.75 of 5 stars
Book source:  Personal copy
Genre:  Historical fiction
Recommended for:  Downton Abbey fans

Elise Landau is not accustomed to taking care of herself, let alone an entire estate. But on the eve of WWII, she has been sent by her family to England to work as domestic servant, in an attempt to secure her safety against the advancing German army into her homeland of Austria.

Natasha Solomons has written the “perfect” novel for Downton Abbey enthusiasts. She so completely captures the life of a servant in a manor house, you expect Mr. Carson to be ironing the paper or Mrs. Patmore to be barking orders in the kitchen.

Her descriptions of the estate, gardens, farm, and coast could be scripted directly from a Home & Garden magazine – they were luscious and vivid – I expected to walk out my front door into an English fishing village.

However, that seems to be all that is perfect about this novel. She spends so much time trying to capture the “feel” of country living, the rest of the story is all but forgotten. I was expecting a very multi-layered storyline (much like The Forgotten Garden) but all I got was a very nice, predictable, linear love story, with a beautiful backdrop.

There are so many gems waiting to be explored – a novel hidden in a viola, a sister overseas, parents missing in the midst of war – all of them mostly ignored until the final pages. And although the ending was satisfying, by then…I didn’t really care anymore.

Ultimately, it was a beautifully written book, but a one-deminsional story.


Tina's Blog said...

I had to take this one back to the library without reading it. I'm not feeling so guilty now.

Joanne said...

How disappointing -- I have this one and was looking forward to it. I appreciate your honest review, though.

mpartyka said...

oh no... I have been looking at this novel, with good hopes.

Thanks for an honest review. I will pass.

Joanne said...

Oh, I will still read the novel even though I've read a few lukewarm reviews of it. But I do like it when people are real in their thoughts on the book -- makes me trust their opinion. :)

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

Mmmm...I will probably skip this one. Plot means a lot to me when reading a novel. Thanks for the honest review!

Suey said...

I do agree that more of the layers of the other stories could have been explored more. You are so right! Ah, and now, I need to add The Forgotten Garden to my list it sounds like!