THE GLASS HOUSE BY EVE CHASE
PUBLISHED TODAY 14TH MAY 2020
BY MICHAEL JOSEPH BOOKS
Outside a remote manor house in an idyllic wood, a baby girl is found.
The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They’re grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house’s dark, dusty corners.
Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour – and the law – don’t seem to apply.
But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds.
And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.
Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .
Rita, known as ‘Big Rita’ due to her height, takes on a job with the Harrington family as nanny to their two children Hera and Freddy. Due to circumstances and a family tragedy that happens at their large London house in the summer of 1971, Mr Harrington moves them all out, Rita, Hera, Freddy and their mother Jeannie, to their large but unloved second home right in the heart of The Forest of Dean. Leaving them there for the summer, whilst he goes off to work, promising to come home as much as he can, but effectively leaving the 19 year old Rita in charge.
The events that then go on to take place that summer are really quite traumatic. Grief and mental health issues, marital problems and its effect on the children, and the discovery of an abandoned baby left in the woods would be enough for most books, but to make this novel even more brilliant than it already was, is another story of Rita’s daughter and grand daughter some 45 odd years later. Flipping back and forth between these times, with glimpses of Rita’s life in the intervening years, we read of a fascinating and wonderfully imagined family saga/mystery that kept my utterly transfixed to the page.
The settings for this book were brilliant. The wonderfully evoked mysterious, dangerous forest during the hot summer of 71 is captivating and hypnotic with its alluring earthy, rich, green tree filled landscape. A perfect place to spend the summer…..no? It’s nearby village, full of mysterious and ever so slightly quirky inhabitants, with their secrets and ‘forest ways’, add extra depth to the story.
What shines through though are the characters, especially Rita. My favourite character in this book. Her kindness and warmth leap of the page and even in the worrying episode that take place, her love and warmth for the children shine through the dark like a beacon, so much so that even with all the goings on in the house and woods throughout the novel, my memories of those parts of book are filled with warmth as I remember Rita’s actions. The vocabulary the author gave her , say to describe the forest, or to reassure the children was truly blissful and would of made me want Rita to have been around when I was growing up! The other characters are wonderfully imagined, with their privileged upbringing and decadent ways but also their damaged state of mind.
The twists and turns within the book are plentiful and make this a really engaging read. I felt the ending was nicely done whilst still remaining realistic and proving a satisfying conclusion for the reader. I hadn’t read the authors other books, for example, The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde nor even Black Rabbit Hall, even though I have a copy on my kindle! I will most certainly be rectifying that straight away!
I really loved this book. For me it had all the right elements of a imaginative, absorbing summer time read, and I highly recommend you get hold of a copy, fast!
The Glass House is published today, by Michael Joseph Books and I thank them for my advanced digital copy via NetGalley. I have pre-ordered the hardback to go up on my bookshelves!