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Grange House: A Novel Paperback – June 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (June 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312280041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312280048
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The language, mores and class distinctions of 19th-century society are faithfully rendered in this atmospheric if overstuffed approximation of a Victorian novel, evoking a fashionable hotel on the coast of Maine in the summer of 1896. Grange House was once the family home of a prosperous quarry owner, but a spinster daughter, reclusive one-time "authoress" Miss Nell Grange, is the only Grange left on the premises; a formidable lady cook and a managing hostess run the hotel. Accompanied by her parents, 17-year-old Maisie Thomas has been a guest at Grange House every summer of her life. She's enthralled with Miss Grange and dreams of being a writer herself. This summer's visit augurs ill, however. A pair of lovers are discovered drowned on a foggy morning, there is a mysterious grave in the woods, and Miss Grange drops strange hints about babies and deaths, drawing Maisie into an examination of the past and conjuring up ghosts. Meanwhile, Maisie's parents are pushing her toward a marriage to Jonathan Lanman, her father's young associate. Maisie's father asserts that marriage "puts solid ground beneath one's feet...a place. You can not have a history without a place." But Maisie is drawn to another guest, imaginative, bantering travel writer Bart Hunnowell. The format is a story within a story: as Miss Grange recounts the often improbable events of her life, Maisie is lost in a blur of fantasy and reality until she begins to doubt even her own identity. The fog, the dense woods and the sea itself are virtual characters in poet Blake's (Full Turn) gothic debut, reflecting the gloom of long-kept secrets. A nighttime assignation in a rowboat finally threatens tragedy, and the narrative plunges to a two-hankie finale. Agent, Leigh Feldman at Darhansoff & Verill Agency. Author tour. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

When 17-year-old Maisie Thomas arrives at Grange House in 1896, she can hardly contain her longings for the future. Determined not to settle for marriage, the expected path for women of her class, she ponders how people's choices determine their fates and those of others. During her family's yearly summer retreats to Grange House from Boston, Maisie has grown acquainted with the reclusive Miss Grange, who spends most of her time in the mansion's attic apartment. This summer, she shares stories and letters with Maisie, who is intrigued by the various accounts of the Grange family's tragic past. Only after several deaths and revelations of old secrets does Maisie learn her own part in that history. First novelist Blake notes that the novel was inspired in part by her great-grandparents' courtship letters. Ghostly handprints, mistaken identities, and ill-fated romances reveal her fascination with Victorian literature. Public library patrons sharing this interest will relish the dense atmosphere in a novel where nothing is quite as it seems, though readers seeking definite answers to straightforward questions may be more irritated than entertained.
-Kathy Piehl, Mankato State Univ., MN
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Sarah Blake taught high school and college English for many years in Colorado and New York. She has taught fiction workshops at the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown, MA, The Writer's Center, in Bethesda MD, The University of Maryland, and The George Washington University. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, the poet Joshua Weiner, and their two sons.

Customer Reviews

What a wonderful story, so well written.
MommaMia
I found Grange House a little bit difficult to get into and a little overly descriptive.
Book Junkie
The author is a Victorian scholar, and she uses this knowledge to our best advantage.
Patricia H. Parker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an exciting and beautifully written story. I came to this book as a fortysomething businessman who knows nothing of Victorian fiction but who vacations each summer on the Maine coast. Grange House is a mystery story seen through the eyes of a likable young woman struggling to find her place as she reaches adulthood in 1896. The characters, whether rustic Maine natives filled with humor and irony or more pretentious summer visitors from Boston and New York, are engaging and perfectly drawn. Yet, while summer parties and jokes and romances are pleasant diversions, the core of this book is a complex mystery that builds suspense and excitement as it is carefully constructed and then swiftly and perfectly unwound - I had no idea how this story was going to end. With much of the Maine coast little changed since 1896, I'd love to see a movie version of Grange House.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
A beautifully written, Victorian-style novel set in turn-of-the-century Maine, Sarah Blake's "Grange House" is a very evocative coming of age novel with a nod to the great women writers of the 19th century. Maisie, a well-born and intelligent seventeen-year old girl, finds tragedy, intrigue and love on the craggy coast of Maine while summering with her family. The Victorian sensibilities, language and details will ring true to any Austen or Bronte fan, yet Blake finds her own voice, and it is an eloquent one. I would highly recommend this first novel to lovers of the classics. It will be time well spent.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By reneereader on May 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have loved reading this book, which was recommended to me by the staff of an excellent, erudite and selective bookstore in DC. The story is intriguing without being overdone (a concern with gothic fiction) and is extraordinarily well written. There's a touch of Henry James to the story.
Something not mentioned by other readers: Grange House is one of the few books I've read in years that have given me such vivid imagery that I truly savored reading each passage slowly. This isn't just a Victorian-style thriller; there are several social and interpersonal issues brought out concerning women, marriage, social status, tradition, and family as well. You care what decisions the narrator makes.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jan McGreger on November 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Grange House" is a good, solid gothic novel, worthy of comparison to "Wuthering Heights", "Jane Eyre", etc.
The author, Sarah Blake, deals with identity of the individual. What makes us who we really are? Are we defined by the history we inherit or by the history we choose and create? Perhaps it is our environment? The central character, Maisie Thomas, is a young, intelligent and independent thinker somewhat hedged in by Victorian mores. But is she who she thinks she is? Is anyone who they appear to be?
The famous line by Emily Dickinson -- "Tell all the truth, but tell it slant" popped into my head and stayed as I read this book. In "Grange House" the truth is "slant", subjective and unique to each individual.
A novel of power, manipulation and guilt, it is classically gothic, offering chilling apparitions, deep forests, a cold, unrelenting ocean, madness and ill-fated love. Truth and reality are entangled with deceit and illusion. Past, present and future bleed into each other for a truly wild, entertaining tale.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Emmeline on April 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Is there any end to the number of pitfalls in writing? I just finished Sarah Blake's "Grange House," and she has aggrevated me on various levels.

The book needs editing. Although the writing is good, I kept thinking, "Where is the ending?"

Ms. Blake loves the word "cupped." She must have used it fifty times in 360 pages. I began looking for "cupped" the way you listen for a tic in the speech of someone who bores you. Someone should have repaired this.

The author held me prisoner, then pulled the oldest trick in the book (pun intended), as I expected: reversed identities.

The story takes place circa 1900, and the author's attempt at Victorian speech is jarring. I noticed she holds a doctorate in Victorian lit.; no doubt she wanted to demonstrate how very much Victorian literature she's had to read.

The art of storytelling seems to me like the art of teaching. Many are called, but damned few are chosen.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Ellis-Dumont on March 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book was recommended to me by Amazon. I read Kate Morton's books, House at Riverton and Forgotten Garden, and was looking for something similar. I read these reviews and thought that "Grange House" would be perfect. Ghosts, an Inn on the Maine Coast, 1896...How could it go wrong? Well, it's tedious. The conversations between the characters are exhausting. I found myself constantly rereading phrases to see if there was some kind of double meaning....some information I was going to need to solve the mystery of "the story", which solved pretty quickly. I hoped there would be a twist and I would be wrong. In the end I felt let down. I've never written an Amazon Review before but I found these reviews to be unbalanced and that this book received too many rave reviews. I will probably read the author's next book, The Postmistress. Again, the plot sounds great. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
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