Today I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for Allie Cresswell’s latest book, The House in the Hollow. I love Allie’s books, and I couldn’t wait to read this.
The Talbots are wealthy. But their wealth is from ‘trade’. With neither ancient lineage nor title, they struggle for entrance into elite Regency society. Finally, aided by an impecunious viscount, they gain access to the drawing rooms of England’s most illustrious houses.
Once established in le bon ton, Mrs Talbot intends her daughter Jocelyn to marry well, to eliminate the stain of the family’s ignoble beginnings. But the young men Jocelyn meets are vacuous, seeing Jocelyn as merely a brood mare with a great deal of money. Only Lieutenant Barnaby Willow sees the real Jocelyn, but he must go to Europe to fight the French. The hypocrisy of fashionable society repulses Jocelyn—beneath the courtly manners and studied elegance she finds tittle-tattle, deceit, dissipation and vice.
Jocelyn stumbles upon and then is embroiled in a sordid scandal which will mean utter disgrace for the Talbot family. Humiliated and dishonoured, she is sent to a remote house hidden in a hollow of the Yorkshire moors. There, separated from family, friends and any hope of hearing about the lieutenant’s fate, she must build her own life—and her own social order—anew.
My review, 5/5 stars.
Jocelyn Talbot’s family came to their wealth through trade, rather than inheritance, and as such, their social standing hangs by a fragile thread, where the merest whisper of scandal would leave them shunned by everyone of importance. For Mrs Talbot, there is nothing more important than her position in society.
The story alternates between Jocelyn’s banishment to the lonely house in the hollow in 1811 and the events leading up to it, and the conclusion in 1814. It is also written from the point of view of Annie, an orphan who ends up as a scullery maid at the Talbot’s house, giving us a view of life above and below stairs, making us privy to things that were kept hidden away, scandals that were swept under the carpet.
I love reading Allie Cresswell’s historical fiction novels. She has a way of taking the reader back into the past, with its social rules, subtle intrigue, veiled threats, and the importance of wealth and origins. Her style of writing recreates the oppressive atmosphere of the times that I’m sure many young women had to suffer, and through her story we understand the sacrifices they had to make, for honour, for society, and for the family name. This is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction.
About the author:
Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages.
Nowadays Allie writes full time. She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England.