Simon and Schuster
6 June 2013
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 has a wonderful ability to convey a good story, and the way in which she controls both the past and present makes for fascinating reading. I started the book on Friday, in fact, it was the story I featured for my Friday Book Beginning, and the compelling opening paragraph made this an enticing read.
The use of separate chapters that tell both Emily and Isabel's story is nicely done and both leading females come across as strong characters. I enjoyed getting to know them and found that the parallel between their lives was a convincing portrayal of the era in which they lived.
The ancillary characters that make up the rest of the story are finely drawn; they could be people you know. Some are deeply flawed, whilst others add a livelier documentary to the story. I especially enjoyed reading about the publishing industry, and as the story unfolds we are given a tantalising look into the world of books and the capriciousness of authors and the unpredictability of their publishers.
The gradual layering of the story comes together in a really spellbinding climax. I was hooked from beginning to end in this story of secrets, love and family.
I have no hesitation in recommending this book; it would make a perfect Summer Read.