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?