Thursday, April 26, 2012

Can't Put It Down: The House At Tyneford

Tonight is Book Club! Can't wait. I always love an evening with the girls, talking about our current read what's new in our lives (admittedly, we don't always spend a lot of time discussing the book!). For our next selection, I'll be heartily recommending The House at Tyneford.

Have you read it? It's wonderful--part Downton Abbey, part Jane Eyre, with a few subtle hits of Rebecca thrown in. The story of young Elise Landau, who must leave behind her novelist father and opera singer mother and flee Nazi occupied-Austria for England, where she takes work as a housemaid in a Dorset manor house. Her life and family broken apart, she recreates a new version of herself in order to survive. 

Author Natasha Solomons sets the book in her own beloved home of Dorset, and her attachment to the landscape comes through on the pages as she brings that part of the world vividly to life. 

The inspiration for Tyneford came from Tyneham, a once thriving village on the Dorset coast commandeered by the British army during the Second World War. The villagers were forced from their homes on Christmas Eve 1943, leaving this note pinned to the church:

"Please treat the church and houses with care; we have given up our homes where many of us have lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly."

But they were never allowed back and the village fell to ruin, the land still owned today by the Ministry of Defense. 

Photos from Natasha Solomons

Natasha's own family inspired the character of Elise Landau -- her great-aunt Gabi Landau escaped Nazi Germany by becoming a nanny in England like many who escaped on a "domestic service visa," exchanging lives of privilege for servitude in order to survive.

For more on Tyneford and Natasha Solomons' creative life, you can visit her blog.

What was the last book you just couldn't put down?


  1. The images drew me right in...thanks for the recommendation. I look forward to adding to my ever growing list for summer reading. Just finished The Paris wife and loved it. I miss my old reading habit and glad I am carving out time again to get back to reading.....its such a natural decompressor!

  2. I just reread Jane Eyre. It's official. It is my favorite book. Sigh. I had read it when I was fairly young so reading it now with an adult perspective blew me away!

  3. You sold me, Jeanne! Will be reading this one.
    Nothing like a great book to take you away!
    Happy Thursday.

  4. I confess that I am reading Hunger Games....and love it.
    thanks so much for your kind comment what should I wear to my own home art studio tour....oh fashion consultant shine down on me?

  5. This sounds perfect. I can't to pick this one up...thanks! Have fun tonight!

  6. Wow, this sounds like a great read! I'll have to get into it when all of the house projects die down. I'm also going to pass on this post to my book club in Munich. Many of the members are from England so I think they'd love it too! Thanks for the recommendation - have a great time tonight!

  7. With an endorsement like that, I'm ordering it immediately! :)

    Love that photo of the author and her siblings. I have a very similar one of my grandmother and her sister.

    The last book I couldn't put down was...The Hunger Games. I know, I know...but my oldest son wants to read it and I thought I should read it so I knew exactly what was in it. And, I was hooked.

    Prior to that, I loved Rules of Civility. Recommend it HIGHLY!

    xoxo Elizabeth

  8. Thanks for such a lovely post! So glad you enjoyed the book. The bluebells are out here at the moment - though rather damp in the spring rain...



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