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Grange House

de Sarah Blake

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328980,335 (3.74)21
A beautifully told, captivating novel of 19th century love and intrigueMaisie Thomas spends every summer with her parents at Grange House, a hotel on an island off the coast of Maine ruled by the elegant but distant Miss Grange. In 1898, when Maisie turns 17, her visit marks a turning point. On the morning after her arrival, local fishermen make a gruesome discovery: two drowned lovers, found clasped in each other's arms. It's only the first in a series of events that cast a shadow over Maisie's summer. As she considers the attentions of two very different young men, one an adventurous writer, the other an ambitious businessman from her father's company, Maisie also falls under the gaze of Miss Grange, who begins to tell her stories of her past. But which are truth and which are fiction? Another death, a cache of diaries, an exchange of letters--and a ghostly apparition--all play a part in changing Maisie's life forever.Rich with the details, customs, and language of the era, GRANGE HOUSE is part family saga, part ghost-story, part love story; a wonderfully atmospheric, page-turning novel of literary suspense and romance.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 9 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
There are so many beautiful facets to this fascinating story. I loved the prose, the atmosphere, the very complicated but gripping story. About half way through, I wanted to message the author and tell her how absolutely touching this story is. Very thoughtful, very philosophical.

This author reminds me of Kate Morton---but better. A fourth Bronte sister, maybe. The only not-so-great reaction I had to the book was that the dialogue was a little hokey and melodramatic, at times, and I'm still not so sure how I feel about the ending. Though I had the "main thing" figured out by page 78, and reaffirmed my suspicions by page 101, I still very much enjoyed reading how everything played out and will admit there were one or two things that surprised me later---but still before they were actually revealed.

I loved how the author used imagery and dichotomies in so many ways. Maisie's story is a definite "coming of age", though the aforementioned hokey dialogue proves things are happening way too fast for her to process.

The younger Nell expressed many of my thoughts and desires as a writer. There is so much I want to express with my writing...so much of it is inexpressible until I see it there on the page before me.

Grange House is definitely one of my new all-time favorite novels. I want to go back and reread it all now! ( )
  classyhomemaker | Dec 11, 2023 |
t's not that this book isn't good; it's that it isn't finished. While suffering from the usual first-novel solipsism about writing - the narrator is Fraught With Authorliness - the story also blunders into almost-foreshadowing, almost-connections, and a few visible bits of authorial cleverness of the kind that should have been sewn down into the story rather than left exposed. The characters are vivid; the scenes evoke; the story contains a curious twist of several people acting on one character's untrustworthy memory, followed by several more characters remembering in wonderfully, realistically self-driven perspective (one of the characters, for example, describes in vivid detail a particular event, but fails to identify what exactly is happening, a fact revealed to her only later, when she is able to grasp the implication of the aspect she failed to describe). A more complete version of this novel would have woven the theme of what we remember 'incorrectly' more closely throughout the book, ditched the pettier clevernesses, and foreshadowed more coherently. And it would have been brilliant.



Well, Sarah Blake, I do hope to see more from you. Just remember: your strength in this book lay in having characters remember things messily, on purpose or because of natural naivete, and in your insistence on terse, but vivid, description. Write us another book in which people have realistic memories. You would be doing The Novel a favor if you did so. Just - don't try to be Prospero yet. Telling us about the authorial process makes the reader ignore what you point out about the workings of memory; it makes the genius of showing perspective in memory seem like just another weird thing those weird authors do, rather than Something True About Being Human, And That Means You, Dear Reader. ( )
  Nialle | Jun 19, 2013 |
The first time I read this book, I was enthralled. This book has an over-the-top Gothic plot. It's romantic, it's a ghost story. It's Victorian and creepy and suspenseful and interesting. It's no Jane Eyre, but it definitely aspires to be and frankly, I was happy just to read a contemporary novel that makes the attempt. I re-read this recently, and this time I did a lot of skimming since I knew what was going to happen, and the melodrama stretched my patience. Still, it is an interesting read. ( )
  sumariotter | Nov 2, 2011 |
When Maisie Thomas and her family return to Grange House in 1896 for their annual summer visit, she has no clue how this particular year will change her life. The almost-spectral figure of Miss Grange invites Maisie to be part of the house's story - one fulls of ghosts, lost children, and disasters visited upon generation after generation - and Maisie runs in fear. However, fate will not let her stray far. Calamity falls upon her family, and Maisie is drawn into Miss Grange's mystery, even as two young men begin to vie for her affection. As young as she is, Maisie knows one thing: she will not marry simply because it's what she is supposed to do, and nothing will ease her heart until she knows the secret of the grave in the woods.

Grange House is beautifully written with a strong clear voice. It would be easy to read it and assume it was written over a hundred years ago. Every scene - even the sentence constructive - has a distinct Victorian-Gothic lilt. The story is enjoyable as well, with the ghosts, secrets, and hidden identities that one would expect. Maisie is a likeable girl, and very true to her time period. One of the major twists to the ending seemed obvious to me for a while, but I didn't foresee everything so it still had a nice surprise. ( )
1 vote ladycato | Oct 27, 2009 |
9-17-2008

This debut novel is so incredibly lyrical and poetic that I keep going back to it and just opening it up at a random page and reading a passage here and there. It’s so evocative of Charlotte Bronte that I’m sure the author must have been influenced heavily by her, which would make sense anyway because Blake has a degree in Victorian literature. Indeed I believe her intent is to reinvent the classic Victorian novel in the tradition of Bronte or Radcliffe, and she really does an admirable job.

This story is set in 19th century America, on the wind-swept coast of Maine, as 17-year old Maisie Thomas and her parents return to Grange House for their usual summer holiday. Although Maisie has been coming with her parents to Grange House every year all of her life, this is the year that the secrets of Grange House and of her own family begin to emerge, and Maisie makes some truly earth-shaking discoveries about herself and her family. On top of all that she must struggle mightily with her own conflicting desires as she approaches womanhood and tries to find a balance between the intellectual stimulation and experiences she craves and the conventions of the times in which she lives.

The summer starts off inauspiciously when a pair of runaway lovers are found drowned in the sea nearby, one of them a serving girl from Grange House, and Maisie is drawn into the veiled, convoluted ramblings of Nell Grange, the woman to whose family the house once belonged and who still resides in the upper rooms of the house, roaming above the guests’ heads like a restless shadow. A lone, sad grave in the woods hints at a history still untold, and Maisie soon learns that, willing or not, she will be the one to tell it.

Don’t let the young age of the protagonist put you off. This is not a young adult novel, although it would be perfectly appropriate for teens (in fact, if teens want to get a taste of what true, talented writing is (I won’t revisit my unkind thoughts on certain people in the YA market calling themselves ‘writers’ *cough cough*), I highly recommend it. At any rate, it is definitely a mainstream adult novel and I would compare it most closely to a modernized Jane Eyre in style and feel. Blake certainly has the gothic Victorian atmosphere nailed, complete with fog, rambling old houses, secrets and muttering old ladies in attics, but without the more overwrought, eye-rolling dramatics. Maisie is a protagonist any woman can be proud of, too – and that’s saying something coming from me, because I generally dislike more female protagonists than I like!

The sheer beauty of the language is more than worth the read, as well. It was like reading poetry in long form, or listening to a perfect melody. Blake spins out the story slowly, almost tortuously, and I was on tenterhooks until the very last page. Ask my husband! For the last 10 pages I literally had to get up and walk around the house, reading as I walked, because I was just so tensed up and tormented about how it was going to end! I’m such a sucker, but that only speaks to the talent of this new voice in fiction. I’m all over this Sarah Blake now and will be watching closely for her follow-up. ( )
1 vote victorianrose869 | Sep 28, 2008 |
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If you have come for a long stay, you must arrive at Grange House by water.
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"A man's history is not the course of events told one after the other; it is a place he returns to. A place he circles round and round but cannot, perhaps, ever enter. My darling, I think you are become that place." (Ludlow, to a young Miss Grange, page 183)
"There are other stories beside the one we live," she said. "And I intend that word - beside - to be understood quite literally, Maisie. When we walk, the others we might have been in step in and out beside us." (page 52)
"One must stare down one's horror, stare at it straight and look it in the eye, Dr. Bates. It is when one glances away that one is lost, for then the thing is loosed and it can crep round, playing in the mind with its soft, insistent fingers." (page 61)
"A sister is one's other half," I offered.
He was silent, waiting.
"Or, say," I continued, more for myself than the city gentleman beside me, "she is at once who I am - and am not" - I paused - "made visible." (page 153)
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A beautifully told, captivating novel of 19th century love and intrigueMaisie Thomas spends every summer with her parents at Grange House, a hotel on an island off the coast of Maine ruled by the elegant but distant Miss Grange. In 1898, when Maisie turns 17, her visit marks a turning point. On the morning after her arrival, local fishermen make a gruesome discovery: two drowned lovers, found clasped in each other's arms. It's only the first in a series of events that cast a shadow over Maisie's summer. As she considers the attentions of two very different young men, one an adventurous writer, the other an ambitious businessman from her father's company, Maisie also falls under the gaze of Miss Grange, who begins to tell her stories of her past. But which are truth and which are fiction? Another death, a cache of diaries, an exchange of letters--and a ghostly apparition--all play a part in changing Maisie's life forever.Rich with the details, customs, and language of the era, GRANGE HOUSE is part family saga, part ghost-story, part love story; a wonderfully atmospheric, page-turning novel of literary suspense and romance.

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