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Grange House by Sarah Blake

Grange House

by Sarah Blake

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The characters in this book have more secrets than all the secrets to be found in 15 books of "Pretty Little Liars". There was a distinct Dickensian/Bronte vibe to this book.

It was a good story, but it just dragged so much at times. I feel like there were moments of absolute brilliance, but it just wasn't enough overall. ( )
  majesdane | Aug 8, 2017 |
[Grange House] is quite marvelous. It deals with the architecture of secrets: family secrets, house secrets, secrets of the grave, secrets of the mind, secrets of ignorance. I think of it as architectural because like a gothic cathedral it is cumulative. The book contains odd decorations that at first seem extraneous, but actually contain meaning hidden from the viewer.

It is a gothic romance, beautifully written, and structured to function on many levels. On the one hand, it is the story of a young, victorian girl coming of age to deal with love, hormones, and a past she does not know. On another level, it is the story of a past teased out of strands of story and characters until the final reveal which is less of a surprise ending than a poignant, gestalt sort of ending.

No secret revealed is exactly what it seems to be until viewed in the light of other secrets which seem as shifting as sun shadows in a wood. What is revealed is always different and more than at first sight. The writing is clear, clean, and beautifully evocative. The structure is precise. The characters are full, three dimensional beings with reasons and lives that extend far beyond their stories.

Yes, I loved the book. Sarah Blake has made a wonderful story here that explores the meaning and use of stories, of literature in a broader sense. I want to read her other book, [The Postmistress]. ( )
  Crotchetymama | Mar 6, 2015 |
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 |
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If you have come for a long stay, you must arrive at Grange House by water.
"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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Book description
In 1869, seventeen-year-old Maisie Thomas comes to her family's old Maine hotel for their annual summer stay, and, as Maisie tries to learn what she wants from life--love or something else--the secrets of the house, her family, and the strange, storytelling Miss Grange begin to reveal themselves, as corpses and ghosts appear on the grounds.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312280041, Paperback)

By the author of the New York Times bestseller The Postmistress

Maisie Thomas spends every summer at Grange House, a hotel on the coast of Maine ruled by the elegant Miss Grange. In 1896, when Maisie turns 17, her visit marks a turning point. On the morning after her arrival, local fishermen make a gruesome discovery: drowned lovers, found clasped in each other’s arms. It’s only the first in a series of events that casts a shadow over Maisie’s summer. As she considers the attentions of two very different young men, Maisie also falls under the gaze of Miss Grange, who begins to tell her disturbing stories of her past. Rich with the details, customs, and language of the era, Grange House is a wonderfully atmospheric, page-turning novel of literary suspense and romance.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:08 -0400)

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