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Bleakly Hall [Paperback]

Elaine di Rollo
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 7.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

2 Feb 2012

Monty and Ada last saw one another on the frontlines of the First World War, when Monty was a nurse and Ada an ambulance driver who drove like the devil. Now, the two friends have been reunited at crumbling Bleakly Hall, where Monty has been hired to look after the grumpy, gouty guests who have come to take the Hall's curative waters.

But the end of the Great War has brought changes for everyone at Bleakly, and not all of them are good. Monty, mourning the death of her beloved Sophia, has a score to settle with the elusive Captain Foxley; Ada misses her wartime sense of purpose; the Blackwood brothers must reinvent Bleakly for a new era; while Foxley has his own ways of keeping his demons at bay.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (2 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099513471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099513476
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 953,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"I can't remember the last time I read a novel that fizzed with so much energy, or swung so acrobatically between lightly carbonated comedy and pitch-black horror" (Scotsman)

"In a series of funny, moving set pieces, di Rollo explores the aftermath of the Great War through her cast of bewildered veterans" (Marie Claire)

"Often very amusing and tartly observed... a bold comic creation" (Times Literary Supplement)

"A comedy of manners, given tragic depths" (The Tablet)

Book Description

A novel of wit and imagination - about friendship, loss and the effects of war.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 12 April 2011
I read this book in one sitting. Its such a wonderful story and the characters really seem alive. Her writing is just so fluid and beautiful, it was a pleasure to read. The story was so unique as well. This characters made me laugh particuarly the character of Monty who is strong and knows what she wants and she is not be afraid to throw something at the head of any man who gets a little fresh, namely Captain Foxley.

Since there is not proper blurb for this book I will provide one here:

Monty and Ada are old friends. They worked together on the frontline in Belgium, where Monty was a nurse and Ada drove ambulances - like the devil. And now, Bleakly Hall hydropathic has brought them together again.

Monty has just arrived to look after the gouty residents - there to take the Hall's currative waters via nozzle, douche and jet - and Ada is the maid and driver. For all those at Bleakly, the end of the Great War has brought changes. Not all of them good.

Monty has a score to settle with the elusive Captain Foxley; Ada misses her wartime sense of purpose; the Blackwood brothers must reinvigorate Bleakly for a new era; Foxley has his own particular ways at keeping his ghosts at bay. But with the crumbling, rumbling hydropathic threatening to blow its top, what will become of those thrown togther in its bilous embrace?
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read in ages 6 Feb 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Set in a hydropathic hotel in the years immediately following the First World War, this is a tale of love, loss and the search for identity, set against a backdrop of unfathomable social change and decay. With Elaine Di Rollo's signature wit and acute sense of the bizarre, it makes a tantalising read. I couldn't put it down.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 14 Mar 2011
This fantastic 2nd Book is an intriguing tale about the residents and visitors to a crumbling hydropathic hotel after the first world war. The story is very humorous but is also cleverly interlaced with the character's personal tragic experiences of the war. It's about comradeship, loss, love, identity and hope. I loved it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read - I couldn't put it down! 28 Feb 2011
This is a truly wonderful book - I read it cover to cover in almost one sitting. The characters are believable and well drawn, the detail shows a great level of research and I loved the way the story operates in flashbacks interspersed in the main narrative. It is cleverly constructed and I got really drawn in to the lives of Monty and Ada and the crumbling hydropathic.

Well worth a read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lively adventurous read 19 Feb 2011
This novel is set in different times; mainly post war with flashbacks to the first world war period, each time letting another aspect of her original and complex characters emerge. With a lovely Tongue- in -cheek style and humour throughout I really enjoyed this book and look forward to her third novel :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The residents of Bleakly Hall 2 Aug 2013
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
I came across a reference to this book by chance on Amazon, so hunted it out to read as it sounded very intriguing.

Roberta Montgomery, or Monty as she is known, has come to Bleakly Hall after the end of the War in 1918, to work there at the hydropathic facility as a nurse. But she has another reason for going there - she wants to speak to Captain Foxley. Monty worked as a nurse during the War and knows Ada, who works at the Hall as well. But Bleakly Hall is not doing as well as it had before the War, and Curran and Grier Blackwood, both of whom served in the War as well with Foxley are trying to recover its fortunes. With all these people living under the same roof, and the odd group of residents there to take the healing waters, what could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot really.

What seems to start out as a farce of post-War British life soon turns into a tale of War memories, horrors and memories that many of the residents of Bleakly Hall cannot get away from. This story says a lot about the British way of life as those who survived the War, and can't quite understand how, try to come to terms with the new world as it is. Their individual stories are told, and the climax of the story, as the reader senses it arriving, seems set to settle quite a few scores.

This is a wonderful book; sad, witty, a slice of life as it must have been. The story is overall about an achingly sad and horrifying time in human history, but the people are just as real as you would expect them to be. The writing is sharp and the story utterly engaging. Totally recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirkily Fabulous 18 Feb 2013
By S. Caughie VINE VOICE
I loved Elaine DiRollo's 'Peachgrowers Almanac' (aka 'A Proper Education for Girls') and loved this novel too. It's a somewhat gentler ride than P.A. (well, no mid-Victorian gynaecology anyway!) but no less entertaining. It's got a bit of a Downton Abbey vibe, with the post-Edwardian rural setting and the cast of colourful characters of various social classes, thrown together in one house. It's hard not to love them all, from the wry, forthright Monty to the crazy Captain in the attic. There are a couple of satisfying romances in the mix too. But the true star here is the aging Victorian hotel where the whole drama is set. Cast through the lens of DiRollo's dry, dark humor, it's a great metaphor for the likewise aging British social hierarchy - both poised, post-war, on the brink of collapse. You can hear every moan and groan of its ancient plumbing, and if its end isn't entirely unpredictable, it is entirely satisfying. A great read!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars couldnt get into it
Ive shelved it for the moment - not a book I was albe to get into - just didt hit the interest spot - might give it another try later on - disappoiting
Published 20 months ago by aleben
3.0 out of 5 stars Tragedy and Comedy Together - Preferred The Tragedy Bits!
I read this as the fourth book in the Readers Summer Book Club list. Of the books on the list, this was one that I wasn't overly keen on or excited by, on reading the blurb on the... Read more
Published on 3 July 2012 by Col
2.0 out of 5 stars Just ok
This novel had everything I love in a story. Set in Britain, big country house, quirky characters, but the writing just didn't live up to the ideas. Read more
Published on 29 Jun 2012 by jottingswithjasmine
4.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining & Unusual Read
`Bleakly Hall' is really a book of two halves (which sounds like I am starting with a cliché) one half of the story is that of the people working and staying at a hydropath... Read more
Published on 21 Jun 2012 by Simon Savidge Reads
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book!
It seems I am loving all my books recently. I think since buying the kindle I am reading more, but also choosing my books more carefully by reading lots of reviews on Amazon and... Read more
Published on 31 Aug 2011 by Dr. M. Carswell
5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing tale
I liked this book; the period is interesting, the people are interesting and the plot is interesting, which is pretty much all that you want from a good read. Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2011 by E Powell
5.0 out of 5 stars Darker and better...
An accomplished second novel from di Rollo; darker and less obviously humorous than her first, but probably a better book for that. Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2011 by Sweaty Sock
5.0 out of 5 stars superb follow-up
This, Elaine diRollo's second novel, comes even denser, more serious, more sinister than her first ('The Peachgrower's Almanac'). Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2011 by Thomas Krause
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