I began reading this lovely book on our hottest day of the year so far, sitting in the garden, and it was the perfect setting in which to savour it. Cora, a countess with a complicated romantic history, who having moved around Europe after a mysterious departure from England in her youth, moves to live in the grand house at Temple Hill in the hot summer of 1911, and is the subject of immense curiosity of her neighbours. Her grandson Jack lives with her, and is the subject of interest to the local young females. Sylvia, her long time friend, joins the household to write Cora’s memoirs – should Cora ever engage fully.
This is a story of love, passion and memories – often unreliable – beautifully told with an effortless languorous feel as the history (and drama) unfolds. Others have called it a page turner – I’d disagree on that, but I was quite mesmerised by the wonderful descriptions, particularly of the settings from Cora’s past. This is a novel in which to immerse yourself, to reflect on the memories and imaginings, truths and otherwise – a book to feel and experience, with a story that slowly falls into place as you read. Not one for everybody, but I loved it.