What’s it about?
Applecote Manor captures Jessie’s imagination the first time that she sees it. She’s so sure it’s the perfect escape for her troubled family. Yet the house has a certain air about it, something that she can’t quite pin down. Back in the fifties, Margot and her sisters are visiting their aunt and uncle at Applecote. Time has halted for them since the disappearance of their only and beloved daughter Audrey.
There seems to be a new kind of genre of popular fiction. It’s a sort of ‘old house’ fiction, set in the not-too-distance past, always in summer. There’s a family in crisis at the centre, sometimes two families, and often a woman on the brink of something. There’s an unsolved crime in the mix, generally something to do with the family. I’m going to call it ‘nostalgic family thriller’; this story fits into this group neatly.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this book; I did. If you’re a fan of Kate Morton or Dinah Jeffries, you most likely will enjoy it too. I loved the setting, and wanted Applecote Manor for myself. I empathised with the modern family battles, although found the characters themselves a little thin. The fifties characters seemed altogether more thought out, almost as though Chase came up with the modern family to help tell the fifties’ family’s story. That wouldn’t surprise me, actually.
It was a very warm story, and I’m not just saying that because it partially set in a heat wave. The strength in these types of novels lies in how the author constructs the familial relationships; Chase does a sterling job here. There was real affection for the people and the place. Again, I half expect that Applecote Manor to be inspired by a real place.
The plot was good, a gently paced thriller. In actual fact, the ‘crime’ of the title is almost an after-thought; this would work well as a stand-alone family drama without the disappearance to solve. I didn’t work out whodunnit, which I liked; it gets tiring automatically guessing at endings all the time.
All in all, a lovely book.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, if you’re after something about families in old houses.
The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase is published by Michael Joseph priced £12.99. The paperback is out on 17th May 2018 priced £7.99.
I received an advance copy to review thanks to NetGalley.