Review: The House at Tyneford

The House at Tyneford
The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

THIS WAS AN AUDIOBOOK. Elise Landau is a Viennese Jewess and lives contentedly in Austria with her beloved parents, Julian and Anna; housemaid Hildergard and her sister, Margo. Elise is the least gifted of the clan; her mom a renowned opera singer, sister an accomplished viola player, and her father Julian, a novelist. Nevertheless, Elise is loved and nurtured just the same. However, as WW2 is on the horizon, her family must make preparations to emigrate from their home in Vienna to escape the harsh realities of war which are already bringing persecutions to their people. With no other recourse, Elise’s parents will leave for the United States, and so will her sister Margo with her husband, Robert. Without an American visa and insufficient time to attain one, Elise will be sent to England to work as a parlor maid in a manor house belonging to a Mr. Rivers until her parents can retrieve her. Elise’s relaxed and happy life in Vienna quickly changes when she arrives at the work agency in England, where she is acknowledged as nothing more than a refugee and domestic servant. What awaits her as she settles into life at Tyneford House?  Will Elise be relegated to the life of a servant girl forever, or will she find love and a new sense of home in this foreign land?

The House at Tyneford is a beautifully written historical novel with richly detailed characters that bring the story to life. I felt instantly transported back in time to England and into the lives of Elise and her benefactor, Mr. Christopher Rivers (affectionately called “Daniel” by Elise). The more than one dimensional secondary characters, which included staff that resided in and around Tyneford House, friends, family members and associates, added depth to the story and increased my enjoyment of the book.  Part of the ending was predictable for me, but the remainder was imbued with sentimental elements that I never expected and found deeply  moving. Overall, The House at Tyneford was a gratifying listening experience and I recommend it highly.

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