A fascinating family saga spanning almost a century about the lives, loves and tragedies of three strong women, Rachel, Elsie and Ruth, set against the history of WWI, the suffragette movement, WWII and the Gulf War. All somehow connected to Echo Hall. All influenced by its ominous atmosphere…
It is the year 2014 and Phoebe is curious as to the place where she was born: the stately mansion called ‘Echo Hall,’ home of the Flint family. The house that has been “on the edge of her memory” for so long that she is dying to be inside it, to breathe in the atmosphere of the former home of her parents, Ruth and Adam. Phoebe herself does not remember much as she was barely a year old when she left but somehow, the house feels familiar to her but is she prepared to “become a tourist in my own life?” To revive the stories of old, the tales her mother told her that are somehow also a part of her, Phoebe? Follow me..
An old house, ‘Echo Hall,’ reminds us of its inhabitants. Most of all, it is a place where love was hard to find, where children were hardly free to laugh and play, to be.. children. Instead, it seems the whole atmosphere of the house brings you down in a suffocating kind of way. Here is it in the early years of the 20th century, that sisters Rachel and Leah grow up – here is it that their sibling rivalry starts The rivalry that, in the end, will have such far-going consequences. Rachel is her dad’s favourite, Leah the elder sister who strives to behave as best as she can but still fails to get the recognition for it. When both sisters fall in love, it is only a matter of time before irreparable rifts divide their family.
Around WWII, Elsie is swept away by her feelings for Jack, Leah’s son. Elsie is determined to humour her mother-in-law but is that enough? With Jack in the RAF and fear for the dreaded letter never far away, Elsie is glad she has a friend at hand, Jack’s cousin Daniel. The three of them are close friends but Leah is fiercely opposed to Elsie meeting Daniel whilst Jack is away, fighting for his country. Tongues wag… In the 1990s, against the Gulf War, Adam and Ruth marry and Adam brings his pregnant bride to ‘Echo Hall,’ where he lives with his grandfather. Ruth has trouble adjusting to life in the country and both men aren’t the easiest of characters. Closed doors, hidden secrets and violent outbursts.. how will Ruth cope?
I am in awe of how the author cunningly wove her plotlines into one story – the events of the past unfolding the secrets that have had such an impact on the lives of those involved, up to the present days. At one point, I felt so absorbed in a tale that, after finishing the chapter and moving on to the next, I had to stop and think as I could not place the next characters in the book – I was completely drawn in by the tale that was set against WWII. The book contains so many fascinating details and insights into the lives of women in the first decades of the 1900s, about Quakers and the suffragette movement and how people coped with their loved ones being away, fighting overseas.
But also, this novel covers the age-old topics of love and hate, of friendship and betrayal, of prejudices, mistrust and sibling rivalry. I loved the characters of all three the women, Ruth, Rachel and Elsie. Almost impossible to chose a favourite among them, Is it Ruth who is determined to help her father-in-law? Or perhaps Elsie, who goes through difficult times? I think for me I admired Rachel the most, not only because of the letters she writes to her friend, the letters that give such a fascinating insight into her life. Rachel is a strong woman who stands by the choices she makes and in that, is a source of inspiration. A wonderfully crafted novel with well-drawn characters taking you on a journey through time.
About the Author
Virginia Moffatt was born in London, one of eight children, several of whom are writers. Her eldest brother has written a theology book, one sister is a poet, a second, a translator and her twin is a successful author. Virginia Moffatt has always been a writer, but only began to take it seriously in 2004, when she first had the idea for Echo Hall. In 2009 she set up her blog, ‘A Room of My Own’ where she publishes flash fiction, short essays, and reflections about writing and reading.
After working in social care for thirty years, she left local government to work for the Christian thinktank Ekklesia in 2014. Virginia is married to Chris Cole, Director of Drone Wars UK. They have three children and they live in Oxford.
|Publisher||Unbound Digital (30 Nov. 2017)|