Published – 2010 (paperback)
Genre – Contemporary Fiction
Another Richard & Judy bookclub book, and as with Sister, I was also given this for free.
The night before it all begins, Jude has the dream again …Can dreams be passed down through families? As a child Jude suffered a recurrent nightmare: running through a dark forest, crying for her mother. Now her six-year-old niece, Summer, is having the same dream, and Jude is frightened for her. A successful auctioneer, Jude is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. When she’s asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham, a lonely 18th century astronomer, she leaps at the chance to escape London for the untamed beauty of Norfolk, where she grew up. As Jude untangles Wickham’s tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present. What have Summer’s nightmares to do with Starbrough folly, the eerie crumbling tower in the forest from which Wickham and his adopted daughter Esther once viewed the night sky? With the help of Euan, a local naturalist, Jude searches for answers in the wild, haunting splendour of the Norfolk woods. Dare she leave behind the sadness in her own life, and learn to love again?
This really does fall outside my comfort zone and isn’t the sort of book I would normally choose, but I was happy to try it. While the story felt very escapist, as the main character headed off to her Norfolk roots from her humdrum London life, it really went too far for my liking. The discovery of old manuscripts leads Jude to follow two stories based in the 18th century – one about the family who originally lived at Starbrough Hall and the other about the astronomical discoveries of the time. And while all this is going on she has her niece’s nightmares and her own love life to worry about.
Thankfully the author makes a point of wrapping up every possible loose end, but unfortunately this does mean using some mystical means as well as an unbelieveable number of coincidences. I struggled to feel any empathy with the characters and didn’t care too much what happened to them. It’s certainly an easy read and probably great for the beach, as long as you are prepared to suspend your disbelief.
Score – 2/5