The Secrets of Hawthorn Place by Jenni Keer #TuesdayBookBlog #MagicalRealism

When life throws Molly Butterfield a curveball, she decides to spend some time with her recently widowed granddad, Wally, at Hawthorn Place, his quirky Victorian house on the Dorset coast.

But cosseted Molly struggles to look after herself, never mind her grieving granddad, until the accidental discovery of an identical Arts and Crafts house on the Norfolk coast offers her an unexpected purpose, as well as revealing a bewildering mystery.

Discovering that both Hawthorn Place and Acacia House were designed by architect Percy Gladwell, Molly uncovers the secret of a love which linked them, so powerful it defied reason.

My Review

As a 24-year-old graduate, Molly should be at the beginning of a good career, looking forward to the future, but she is going nowhere. Working in a call centre in London, she has depended on her boyfriend, Rupert, to pay all their bills and her only ambition seems to be to enjoy her social life. So when their relationship ends, she is homeless and even her parents say they cannot accommodate her at present. Her only option is to stay with her grandfather, Wally, in Dorset, who is still grieving the death of her grandmother. Her non-existent housekeeping skills mean that she struggle to cook and clean but gradually Molly follows the guidance her grandmother had shown and learns responsibility.

Wally’s house, Hawthorn Place has always meant a lot to Molly and now she researches the Arts and Crafts architectural style and the biography of its architect, Percy Gladwell. In occasional chapters we follow Percy’s life in late Victorian England. He has been commissioned by Edward and Violet Marston to design a house on the Norfolk coast for them.  Percy specialises in creating personal houses for each client and he uses motifs from nature for decoration. It is soon clear that Violet will be the spiritual lead for the design, and he becomes interested both in the garden she proposes and in Violet herself.

Although working hard to cheer Wally’s spirits and engage him in gardening, which he once loved, she stumbles into an unwise new relationship. The discovery of an amazing secret in Hawthorn Place leads her to a job with recluse, Rory Brooker, who also needs her help, but she finds herself in a network of lies with no easy way out.

This dual time story deals with personal relationships, love and maturity and the reader gradually identifies with Molly in her struggle to understand the people who are important to her. In parallel we follow the story of two lonely people more than a century earlier in an intriguing tale of magical realism.

The Secrets of Hawthorn Place on Amazon UK

Published by lizannelloyd

Love history, reading, researching and writing. Articles published in My Family History and other genealogy magazines.

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