One golden family. One fateful summer. Four lives changed forever. Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family's country estate where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, one stormy evening in 1968, it does. The idyllic world of the four Alton children is shattered. Fiercely bonded by the tragic events, they grow up fast. But when a glamorous stranger arrives, these loyalties are tested. Forbidden passions simmer. And another catastrophe looms... Decades later, Lorna and her fiancé wind their way through the countryside searching for a wedding venue. Lorna is drawn to a beautiful crumbling old house she hazily remembers from her childhood, feels a bond she does not understand. When she finds a disturbing message carved into an old oak tree by one of the Alton children, she begins to realise that Black Rabbit Hall's secret history is as dark and tangled as its woods, and that, much like her own past, it must be brought into the light. A thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by Black Rabbit Hall. A story of forgotten childhood and broken dreams, secrets and heartache, and the strength of a family's love. Praise for Black Rabbit Hall 'Apart from the occasional classic, I have rarely felt the urge to read a book twice . . . Black Rabbit Hall's beautifully crafted mystery is a delight I want to experience again and again . . . make Chase's debut the one to pack in your suitcase *****' Stylist 'There's something about tales of mysterious old buildings that have the ability to set hairs on end. In this one, two intertwining stories explore the magnificence of Black Rabbit Hall and the dark secrets behind its walls. Perfect' Red 'Atmospheric, with echoes of Du Maurier, this haunting novel enchanted me' Fanny Blake, Woman & Home 'Beautifully, poetically written and reminiscent of everything from I Capture The Castle to Hansel And Gretel. Eve Chase is a name to watch' Wendy Holden, Daily Mail 'A cracking pool-side saga' Good Housekeeping 'Black Rabbit Hall pulls you like a sleepwalker into a beautiful, hazy story about a grand Cornish home full of character and thunderclap memories, we found ourselves breathless with anticipation. Eve Chase's debut novel is like a prolonged and beautiful daydream, celebrating the enduring power of place in our lives' iBooks Books of the Month 'Black Rabbit Hall is a seductive wonder of a novel; with echoes of Daphne Du Maurier and Dodie Smith, it pulls you irresistibly into its world where nothing is quite as it first appears' Elizabeth Fremantle 'Expertly crafted, dark, beautiful and utterly enthralling' Rowan Coleman 'Family secrets, forbidden lust, and a family of four extraordinary children who'll stick with you long after they've scattered off the page. Eve Chase kept me up with her gorgeous descriptions of a crumbling Cornwall estate and the unruly brood who meets tragedy within its walls' Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet 'A stunning new writer has arrived - gripping and heart rending, this novel is full of original characters which don't let you forget them' Katie Fforde 'A deliciously intriguing novel whose rich sense of time and place bear more than a few echoes of du Maurier's best' Alex Marwood, Edgar Award-winning author of The Wicked Girls 'A sheer delight. It has everything: a glorious setting, characters to fall in love with, secrets galore and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very last page. Wonderful' Veronica Henry 'A plot so absorbing that Black Rabbit time will creep up out of the pages and envelop you completely . . . To say I loved this book would be an understatement' The Book Bag It's a fast-paced story of secrets, betrayal and consequence . . . we promise you'll be gripped' Essentials Magazine 'The perfect piece of summer escapism, gently edged with glamorous fairy dust. We loved it' Psychologies Magazine, September Book Club choice 'A fabulous story. Masterfully realised by Chase, this is one of those books that demands complete attention and lingers in your mind for days after finishing the last page' Thebookbag.co.uk 'Brilliant' The Lady 'Debut novelist Chase weaves together Lorna's investigations with Amber's tribulations, a tapestry embroidered with madness, a horrifying accident, and malicious lies. Compellingly readable and riddled with twists and turns worthy of Daphne du Maurier, Chase's tale will delight' Kirkus Reviews 'A hugely intriguing read and, combined with the twists and turns that cleverly connect past and present, the gripping narrative left us gasping for more. Poignant and suspenseful, Black Rabbit Hall is the perfect alternative summer read.' Heat
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Eve Chase always wanted to write about families - ones that go wrong but somehow survive - and big old houses, where family secrets and untold stories seed in the crumbling stone walls. Black Rabbit Hall is such a story. Eve is married with three children and lives in Oxfordshire.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Last day of the summer holidays, 1969, Cornwall
I feel safe on the cliff ledge, safer than in the house, anyway. Afew feet from the coast path, it's a twenty-minute scramble from the edge of the estate, far enough from Black Rabbit Hall's watching win dows, a secret place. I hover on the cliff above it for a moment or two, wind snapping my dress against my legs, soles of my feet tingling, then lower myself carefully, gripping the clumps of grass, sea roaring in my ears. (Best not to look down.) One small heart-stop drop and I'm perching right on the edge of sky. Jump too wide, it's all over. I wouldn't do it. But it occurs to me that I like the fact I could. That I have some control over my destiny today.
Pressed against the cliff wall, I finally catch my breath. So much frantic searching: woods, rooms, endless stairs. Heels rubbed raw in too-small tennis shoes. And I still haven't found them. Where are they? Shading my eyes from the sky dazzle with my hand, I scan the bottle-green cliff tops on the other side of the cove. Deserted. Only cattle in the fields. I inch down then, spine against the rock, and hitch up my dress, brazenly, so that air tunnels through my bare bent legs.
Still at last, I can't outrun the events of the day any longer. Even the sound of the waves on the rocks makes my slapped cheek sting afresh. I blink and there is the house, silhouetted on the inside of my eyelids. So I try to keep my eyes open and let my mind loose in the vast pink sky, where the sun and moon hang like a question and an answer. Iforget that Iam meant to be searching. That minutes move faster than clouds at dusk. I think only of my own escape. I don't know how long I sit there, my thoughts pierced by a huge black bird diving over the cliff, so close its talons might catch in my hair. Iinstinctively duck in its wing draft, nose meeting the cool skin of my knees. And when I look up my gaze is no longer on the sky but on flotsam bob bing on the high tide swell below.
No, not flotsam. Something more alive. A dolphin? Or those jelly fish that have been washing up in our cove all week, like a lost cargo of gray glass bowls? Maybe. I lean forward, dipping my face over the edge to get a better view, hair blowing wildly, heart beating a little faster, starting to sense something terrible shifting just below the shimmer ing blue surface, not quite seeing it. Not yet.
More than three decades later
It is one of those journeys. The closer they get to their destination, the harder it is to imagine that they'll ever actually arrive. There is always another bend in the road, a judder to the dead end of a farm track. And it is getting late, too late. Warm summer rain is drumming on the roof of the car.
"I say we cut our losses and head back to the Band B." Jon cranes over the steering wheel to get a better view of the road liquefying behind the windscreen. "Grab a pint and plan a wedding somewhere within the M25. What do you reckon?"
Lorna draws a house with her fingertip in the condensation on the window. Roof. Chimney Squiggle of smoke. "Don't think so, darling."
"Somewhere with a sunny microclimate, perhaps?"
"Ha. Funny." Despite the disappointments of the day so far-none of the wedding venues has lived up to expectation, too much over priced chintz-Lorna is quite happy. There is something exhilarating about driving through this wild weather with the man she is to marry, just the two of them cocooned in their wheezing little red Fiat. When they're old and gray they'll remember this journey, she thinks. Being young and in love and in a car in the rain.
"Great." Jon frowns at a looming dark shape in the mirror. "All I need now is a massive bloody tractor up my backside." He stops at a crossroads, where various signs, bent by the wind, point in directions that bear little relation to the angle of the corresponding roads. "Now where?"
"Are we lost?" she teases, enjoying the idea.
"The satnav is lost. We seem to have gone off grid. Only in your beloved Cornwall."
Lorna smiles. Jon's is a boyish, uncomplicated grumpiness, one that will evaporate with the first sign of the house, or a cold beer. He doesn't internalize things, like she does, or make obstacles symbolic of other stuff.
"Right." He nods at the map on Lorna's lap, which is scattered with biscuit crumbs and folded haphazardly. "How are your map-reading skills coming along, sweetheart?"
"Well ..." She scrabbles the map open, bouncing the crumbs off to join the empty water bottles rolling on the sandy car floor. "According to my rough cartological calculations, we're currently driving through the Atlantic."
Jon huffs back in his seat, stretches out his legs, too long for the small car. "Brilliant."
Lorna leans over, strokes his thigh where muscle fades the denim. She knows he's tired of driving down unfamiliar roads in the rain, touring wedding venues, this one, farthest away, hardest to find, saved for last. They would be on the Amalfi Coast if she hadn't insisted that they come to Cornwall instead. If Jon's patience is wearing thin, she can hardly blame him.
Jon proposed back at Christmas, months ago, pine needles crunch ing beneath his bended knee. For a long time, that was enough. She loved being engaged, that state of blissful suspension: they belonged to each other, but they still woke up every morning and chose to be
together. She worried about jinxing that easy happiness. Anyway, there was no mad rush. They had all the time in the world.
Then they didn't. When Lorna's mother died unexpectedly in May, grief punched her back to earth and the wedding suddenly felt inescapably, brutally urgent. Her mother's death was a reminder not to wait. Not to put things on hold or forget that a black date is circled on everyone's calendar, flipping ever closer. Disorienting but also oddly life-affirming, it made her want to grab life in her fists, totter through the litter of Bethnal Green Road on a drizzly Sunday morning in her lucky red heels. This morning she wiggled herself into a sunshine yellow vintage sixties sundress. If she can't wear it now, when?
Jon changes gears, yawns. "What's the place called again, Lorna?" "Pencraw," she says brightly, trying to keep his spirits up, mindful that if it were up to Jon they'd simply stuff his large, sprawling family into a marquee in his parents' Essex garden and be done with it. Then they'd move down the road, near his adoring sisters-swapping their tiny city flat for a suburban house with a lawn sprinkler-so his mother, Lorraine, could help with all the babies that would swiftly follow. Thankfully, it is not up to Jon. "Pencraw Hall."
He runs a hand through his corn-colored hair, sun-bleached almost white at the tips. "One more shot?"
She beams back. She loves this man.
"To hell with it, let's go this way. We've got a one-in-four chance of getting it right. Hopefully we'll shake the tractor." He presses his foot hard on the gas.
They don't shake it.
The rain continues to fall. The windscreen is mashed with cow parsley petals, pushed into snowy drifts by the squeaking wipers. Lor na's heart beats a little faster beneath the crisp cotton of her dress.
Even though she can't see much beyond the rivulets of rain running down the window, she knows that the wooded valleys, river creeks, and deserted little coves of the Roseland Peninsula lie beyond the glass, and she can sense them already, hulking out there in the mist. She remembers being on these roads as a kid-they visited Corn wall most summers-and how the sea air would rush through the wound-down window, blowing away the last trapped bits of grimy Greater London, and the stitch of tension on her mother's face.
An anxious woman, her mother suffered from insomnia all her life: the seaside seemed to be the only place she could sleep. When Lorna was little, she wondered if the Cornish air swirled with strange sleepy fumes, like the poppy field in The Wizard of Oz. Now a small
voice in her head cannot help wondering if it swirls with family secrets. But she decides to keep this thought to herself.
"Are you sure this old pile actually exists, Lorna?" Jon's arms are straight and stiff at the wheel, eyes reddening with strain.
"It exists." She pulls up her long, dark hair, twisting it into a top knot. A few strands escape, fringing her pale neck. She feels the heat of his glance: he loves her neck, the soft baby skin just below her ears.
"Remind me again." His eyes return to the road. "Some old manor house you visited with your m urn while on holiday down here?" "That's right." She nods enthusiastically.
"Your mum enjoyed a stately, I know that." He frowns up at the mirror. The rain is falling in undulating silver sheets now. "But how can you be sure it's this one?"
"Pencraw Hall popped up on some online wedding directory. I recognized it straightaway."
Already so many things have faded-the hyacinth notes of her mother's favorite perfume, the exact click of her tongue as she searched for her reading glasses-but in the last few weeks other memories, long forgotten, seemingly random, have come into unexpected bright focus. And this is one of them. "Mum pointing up at this big old house. The look of awe in her eyes. It sort of stuck with me." She swivels the diamond engagement ring on her finger, remembering other things too. A pink-striped paper bag of fudge heavy in her hand. A river. "Yes, I'm almost certain it's the same house."
"Almost?" Jon shakes his head, laughs, one ofhis big belly laughs that rumble against his ribs. "God, I must love you."
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Michael Joseph, 2015. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110718182979