With her fragile twisted body, Clara Waterman is a most unusual heroine. Born with bones so brittle that the slightest jolt might cause a fracture, she is feisty and fearless. When a new friendship leads to a position in Shadowbrook, a country house with an enormous glasshouse, her task is to fill it with palms from Kew. Viewed in the local village as a curiosity and a freak, Clara overcomes her initial loneliness and leads the reader to a surprising ending.
- Recommended by Margot Coughlan, Dubray Stillorgan
June 1914 and a young woman - Clara Waterfield - is summoned to a large stone house in Gloucestershire. Her task: to fill a greenhouse with exotic plants from Kew Gardens, to create a private paradise for the owner of Shadowbrook. Yet, on arrival, Clara hears rumours: something is wrong with this quiet, wisteria-covered house. Its gardens are filled with foxgloves, hydrangea and roses; it has lily-ponds, a croquet lawn - and the marvellous new glasshouse awaits her. But the house itself feels unloved. Its rooms are shuttered, or empty. The owner is mostly absent; the housekeeper and maids seem afraid. And soon, Clara understands their fear: for something - or someone - is walking through the house at night. In the height of summer, she finds herself drawn deeper into Shadowbrook's dark interior - and into the secrets that violently haunt this house. Nothing - not even the men who claim they wish to help her - is quite what it seems.
Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier, this is a wonderful, atmospheric Gothic page-turner.