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The House at Tyneford    by Natasha Solomons order for
House at Tyneford
by Natasha Solomons
Order:  USA  Can
Plume, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons is truly a work of art, a story told with words describing a world most of us have never had the good fortune to see. The plot is definitely a riveting one.

Elise Landau is sent from Vienna in the spring of 1938 to England to work as a housemaid. Her parents can read the handwriting on the wall and know that this is not a time for Jews to be in Austria.

They manage to get visas for Elise's sister and her husband to go to America. And the one that Elise needs. But their own are held up. They don't have enough money for the necessary bribes.

Elise begins her new and lonely life in England on the coast of Dorset in a lovely but isolated manor house. A father and grown son live there, Christopher and Kit Richards. Of course, there is a love story. But the war finally reaches England's shores and life as they knew it no longer exists.

We also read of the effects of the war and are reminded of how many suffer not only during a war but for many years after. Such a waste.

Solomons' appreciation of the flora and fauna of Elise's new home is wonderful to read of. She paints verbal canvases of the flowers and shrubs and trees. It's as though we are reading a Turner painting.

The main characters are finely drawn also. Elise is shown to scream her loneliness to the crashing waves. Kit exudes his enthusiasm to enter the war. Mr. Richards, taciturn but caring, spreads his concerns about his house and family and also to the fishermen who live in the village on his land.

The housekeeper and butler play big parts in the story. The reader finds it easy to become embroiled in the house at Tyneford's daily life. Lovely novel. Well worth a read.

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