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A Place of Secrets: A Novel Paperback – January 31, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Antiquarian book appraiser Jude Gower takes an assignment in Norfolk to evaluate the collection of eighteenth-century astronomer Anthony Wickham. Hore embellishes the tale with the familiar elements of the genre—family secrets, a blending of romance and suspense, and, of course, the requisite family mansion, this time a slightly eerie manor house called Starbrough Hall. Jude, whose family is from Norfolk, discovers a connection between her grandmother and a gypsy girl who played in the crumbling folly tower on the Starbrough property. A frightening dream has haunted Jude for a long time, and now, with the help of the handsome artist Euan, she begins to connect the puzzle of Gran’s memories, her own dreams, the gypsies, and Wickham’s folly. This romantic suspenser is rescued from cliché by the story’s momentum and the affectionate and compelling characters. It’s compulsively readable and highly entertaining. Readers who long for the old-fashioned gothic romance of Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Barbara Michaels will rejoice in the U.S. debut of this popular English author, and fans of Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton (2008)and Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea (2009) will be delighted. --Jen Baker


“Sumptuous prose, deft plotting, lush settings, troubling personal histories, tragedy, heady romance and even a smattering of 18th century scientific wonderment mark Hore's fourth novel as her most accomplished and enthralling yet.” ―Daily Mirror

“Hore once again shows her gift for bringing the past to life: her understanding of memory, stories and craft is as strong here as in The Memory Garden.” ―Waterstone's Books Quarterly

“Rachel Hore's intriguing Richard and Judy recommended read, which is layered with a series of mysteries, some more supernatural than others.” ―Independent


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Original edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780805094497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805094497
  • ASIN: 0805094490
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Cathy G. Cole TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
First Line: The night before it all begins, Jude has the dream again.

Auction house appraiser Jude Gower answers the telephone one afternoon at Beecham's Auctioneers in Mayfair and finds herself embarking on a dream job. At Starbrough Hall in Norfolk, England, she is to examine and price the manuscripts and instruments of an eighteenth-century astronomer. She is welcomed by Chantal Wickham, and since both have lost their husbands, Jude feels close to the older woman almost immediately. Hard times are forcing the Wickhams to sell the astronomer's works; they've already sold most of their land and the old tower that was built as an observatory by Anthony Wickham, the astronomer. It was in the tower that Anthony Wickham and his daughter, Esther, made their most amazing discoveries.

Although Jude has spent most of her life in London, her family once lived in the neighborhood of Starbrough Hall, and she feels at home there. She meets Euan, a well-known writer and naturalist, and spends as much time as she can with her sister and six-year-old niece-- who's having disturbing dreams... the same dreams that Jude had as a child. The further Jude delves into the life of Esther Wickham, the more she begins to wonder if these dreams are passed down from generation to generation. Can she possibly find the answers she needs to make the dreams stop before someone is hurt?

A Place of Secrets fleshes out the standard romantic suspense skeleton very well. Jude is a widow who's spent the past few years putting her dead husband on a pedestal. No man she's met can measure up to her memories. Euan is the perfect hero: handsome, articulate, talented... and jealously guarded by Jude's sister.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By JerseyGirl Yvonne VINE VOICE on March 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
A Place of Secrets: A Novel opens with Jude Gower having a dream about stumbling through a forest crying for her mother. The novel has many dream sequences used to move the story forward. Since I am not a reader who finds dream sequences a way to advance a story, I am not a fan of the genre.

Jude Gower works for a London auction house in the rare books and manuscripts department and works to find antique books for the Beecham's Auction house to sell. She is called to determine the value for books at a country seat called Starbrough Hall. She begins her research of books and manuscripts in the Starbrough Hall's library and discovers the writings of a young woman who lived at Starbrough Hall.

I enjoyed this book but it is not something I would read again. There was just so much going on in the book that made it seem never ending. There was the dynamic of Jude and her sister, Claire; they don't get on very well and that was a constant throughout the book. Claire's aversion to Jude was never explained that well and it did not advance the story. Also I find dream scenes to be hard going and I don't like the use of dreams to explain a story; there were quite a few dreams in this book. Jude had dreams and her neice had dreams. There were constant references to those dreams which I found dragged the story down.

The book took quite awhile for me to read and although it was not a bad read; I cannot really recommmend it highly.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By SLR on August 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After you get past the Brit way of speaking you will fall into the story and want to never emerge. The author takes a mundane job of appraising antiques into a mystery, into discovery, into a paranormal dream sequence, into family problems, into the solving of a 1700's murder - into a whirlwind of intrigue and a love story and a special father/adopted daughter relationship. And just when you catch your breath she adds more. This is a special book and the author has a gift for spinning magic.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
For the past three years, Jude Gower has thrown herself into her work. Since the death of her husband, she has immersed herself in appraising for Beecham's auction house. For a while now, Jude has tried to build a relationship with a man named Kaspar, but her enthusiasm seems to be wavering. So when she takes a call from Starbrough Hall concerning a large family library of heirloom books, she warms to the task instantly. In addition to being a welcome diversion from the daily grind in London, a trip to the countryside might give her a chance to clear her head. Besides, Starbrough Hall is right in the middle of her childhood stomping grounds. Her sister, eight-year-old niece and gran all live in neighboring villages, giving her journey a dual purpose.

The Wickham family, owners of Starbrough Hall, embrace her presence, despite their sadness at having to give up their treasured library. They introduce Jude to their extensive collection of manuscripts and volumes on astronomy, along with several pieces of equipment from a long-dead ancestor. Hard times have made it necessary for them to sell off some of the property, including a tract with a tower on it that generations have called the folly. Its draw is irresistible, yet there remains an eerie aura about it. Nonetheless, there is no denying its wonderful position for stargazing. Its condition, though, can be treacherous.

As Jude catalogues the library, she becomes intrigued by a story she discovers about a young woman nobody in the family can quite explain.

"No one knew where Esther had come from --- or where she went. Like a comet, there was just the brief bright glimpse of her life in her memoir, only for her to disappear once more into shadow.
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