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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can the past affect the present?
This is a fascinatingly complex story of how the past can affect the present. Jude, the main character, still trying to come to terms with the death of her young husband four years earlier, is a specialist in 18th century books and manuscripts. When she takes a call one lunchtime, intended for another employee of the small auctioneers business where she works, she feels...
Published on 19 Sep 2010 by Suzie

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
The book follows Jude, an auctioneer, as she visits Starbrough Hall to evaluate a collection for auction. What then follows are pages and pages devoted to a diary she finds hidden away, detailing mainly star gazing trips, which I found completely boring. The plot involves coincidence after coincidence which in my opinion never bind together as anything coherent. As...
Published on 5 Jan 2011 by flipflop


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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can the past affect the present?, 19 Sep 2010
By 
Suzie (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Place of Secrets (Paperback)
This is a fascinatingly complex story of how the past can affect the present. Jude, the main character, still trying to come to terms with the death of her young husband four years earlier, is a specialist in 18th century books and manuscripts. When she takes a call one lunchtime, intended for another employee of the small auctioneers business where she works, she feels a frisson of interest - as a child, her grandmother lived in the gamekeeper's cottage on the estate of Starbrough Hall, home of the caller Robert Wickham. Her Gran still lives nearby, as does her pretty but prickly sister Claire, whose daughter, Summer, has started suffering the same nightmares that plagued Jude as a child - running through a forest unable to find her mother.

Both Jude's Gran, and her mother, Valerie, seem to have some past, but unacknowledged, connection to a crumbling folly built in the 18th century by astronomer Anthony Wickham, the then owner of the estate, to enable him to study the stars. As Jude searches through the old manuscripts, she unearths the journals of the young Esther Wickham, whose story unfolds alongside the modern day tale and proves even more compelling. Who was she, and where did she come from? And what happened to her after Anthony Wickham died?

There is a large cast of characters, but they're clearly defined and there's never any problem knowing who they are. There's also the astronomical history, the romantic interest surrounding Euan, a naturalist and present occupant of Gran's old home, and the tense rivalry yet edgy closeness between the sisters, Jude and Claire.

It's a novel of many facets, and I had to admire the intricate plotting which enabled the author to piece together all aspects of the story and the secrets it contains. For me, there were just two detractions: the style in the early pages seemed at times forced and unnatural, although becoming more flowing as the story progressed - Esther's 18th century voice, for instance, was beautifully conveyed; and some of the coincidences that brought the loose ends together were, for me, just a little too coincidental.

Nevertheless it's an engrossing read, a perfect story for bedtime or curled up in front of the fire as the autumnal evenings set in. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a light but intriguing read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'A Place of Secrets' Review, 13 July 2012
This review is from: A Place of Secrets (Paperback)
This is the first of Rachel Hore's books we've read. A detailed & complex plot with many diverse characters, but we all felt it was extremely well written keeping the reader engaged to the end of the story. There were many synchronisities but despite these we agreed the story-line was strong and came together well. Our group gave it 8 out of 10.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars super read, 12 Dec 2011
This review is from: A Place of Secrets (Paperback)
I just finished this book and was delighted with it. Loved the story and couldnt put it down. Why is there so many negative comments about this book!!!!!!!!!! Never read this author before but will definitely seek her out!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, 5 Jan 2011
This review is from: A Place of Secrets (Paperback)
The book follows Jude, an auctioneer, as she visits Starbrough Hall to evaluate a collection for auction. What then follows are pages and pages devoted to a diary she finds hidden away, detailing mainly star gazing trips, which I found completely boring. The plot involves coincidence after coincidence which in my opinion never bind together as anything coherent. As other reviewers have said it is a poor imitation of a Kate Morton book. I almost gave up numerous times while reading this but was determined to reach the end - it wasn't worth it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyable, 4 May 2012
This review is from: A Place of Secrets (Paperback)
This is the first Rachel Hore book I have ever read and I loved it. Thought it was such a great blend of old and new, love and heartache, family and friends. I am not much of a reader normally but my husband noticed that I was reading this book whenever I had a free moment. Because of this he bought me another one of her books, Memory Garden.

The story is based around a recurring dream that seems to be passed down from Aunt to niece, but is actually a memory from a child from the far distant past. As the story unfolds you realised quite where the story is taking you and what the characters & dream/memory means.

So lovely to read a story that takes you away from normal life and is a engrossing & gentle read that has no unwanted babies, abusive people or swearing that many authors seem to need in their stories.

I will work my way through Rachel's books and I am glad to see I've got quite a few to read.

Have recommended this book to my mum and sister who are waiting for me to take it round to their houses.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars undemanding but enjoyable, 12 Dec 2011
This review is from: A Place of Secrets (Paperback)
Other reviewers seem to be very hard on this book. It's just escapist fiction after all. I enjoyed it and thought the author wove in the two time frames rather skillfully. Yes, at the end it turns out everything is interconnected but wasn't that what the story was all about? It does proceed at a fairly gentle pace but it has a certain charm. A good, soothing book to read when you can't get to sleep or are poorly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Place Of Secrets, Rachel Hoare, 11 Oct 2011
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This review is from: A Place of Secrets (Kindle Edition)
After reading seriously conflicting reviews of this book, which I have to admit had me shaking with laughter,( the reviews, not the book!) I thought I would add my humble opinion. I suppose it all depends on what the reader wants from a book but I personally found it rather charming. The storyline was complex but the detail, especially the life of Esther I found intriguing. If you are after a light read on a summer afternoon, this ones for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 30 April 2011
By 
Lori "book girl" (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Place of Secrets (Paperback)
The main character Jude works for an Auctioneers and is asked to look through the library and manuscripts of an 18th-century amateur astronomer, Anthony Wickham. While doing so she finds entries from his adopted daughter, Esther who the current members of the Wickham family have never heard of. Jude sets out to discover just who was Esther, where did she come from and what happened to her. At the same time Jude's niece has dreams and nightmares that seem to be connected to the events of the past.

Esther's story and Jude's investigation were enjoyable to read about and Jude's attempts to rebuild her life after the death of her husband four years previously helped keep the focus on the present as well as the past. Although, I felt some of the topics surrounding Jude: her grief, a possible revelation about her late husband and the rivalry between her and her sister were skimmed over and that exploring them further would have made a more satisfying read.

For me the mystery of the dreams was not needed and distracted from the more interesting story of Esther. I was also disappointed with the latter part of the book where not only coincidences and connections abounded but seemed to come too easily to light.

This book would have been better if it had just been about Jude, her relationships with her family and her investigation. The author's attempt to tie everything together and add some sort of supernatural mystery spoiled the story somewhat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore, 27 April 2011
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This review is from: A Place of Secrets (Kindle Edition)
This is the story of Jude, a thirty-something widow, who works for a London firm of auctioneers. One day she takes a telephone call which leads to some work at Starbrough Hall in Norfolk valuing a collection of eighteenth century astronomy equipment, books and journals. Jude's family also comes from the area and the history of her family becomes intertwined with the writings of the enigmatic Esther in the journals. This novel follows Jude and her quest to unravel the mysteries uncovered by her work - who is Esther and what became of her? what happened to Gran's gypsy friend, Tamsin? and why is Jude's niece, Summer, having nightmares? It all centres around a folly built by the former owner of Starbrough Hall, Anthony Wickham, as a venue for his stargazing.

In many ways I loved this book. I felt the underlying story worked well. It was a little slow-paced but the story was engaging and I felt compelled to read on to find out how things fell into place. There were some interesting sub-plots too such as Jude's somewhat dysfunctional family - it was refreshing to see the tension between Jude and her sister, Claire. I have a somewhat confusing friendly-frosty relationship with my own older sister so I was pleased for a complex sibling relationship to be portrayed rather than the best friend lovey-dovey sisterly relationships you normally get in books. Of course there is a love interest for Jude too - she is struggling to get over the tragic death of her young husband and it takes someone special to help her move on.

However... this book was totally spoilt by weak writing and poor editing. Part three was particularly tedious with the mystery unfolding far too conveniently and everyone ending up related to everyone else. It also dragged on far too long, the family reunion in the Hall was painful to read - did Valerie really need to turn up, the author could easily have left her in Spain with no impact on the rest of the story? Then, when we'd got to the bottom of it all and the romance was off and running, the book kept on going with the exhibition at Madingsfield. Any gaps in the story which couldn't be filled in through academic research were revealed through Jude's own dreams - a lazy tool for writing I think.

There was a lot of dialogue which was often twee and unconvincing. Jude was Little Miss Perfect, whilst everyone else had their faults she always knew the right thing to do and the right thing to say. No wonder her sister found her annoying! There were also moments in the book that just didn't ring true - for example, here are some quotes from when Jude first hears about Starbrough Hall:

"Where on earth was Starbrough Hall though?"... "Jude flipped to a fresh page on her notepad and wrote 'Starbrough Hall' at the top in neat capitals, then stared at the words, trying to understand why they tugged at her memory."

Well, it just happens to be the manor house in the area where Jude's family has lived for generations! Surely she'd have known that immediately. It might have been a good opportunity for the author to introduce her much-loved phrase "Oh, what a coincidence".

This brings me to a pattern that is emerging when I read books written by authors who have worked in publishing. They invariably seem to be poorly edited - are these people beyond reproach? Other examples I am thinking of are 'Labyrinth' by Kate Mosse and 'Hunting Unicorns' by Bella Pollen. Both were good stories that could have been so much better with some assertive editing.

Finally I can't let this go without a special mention for the proofreader. The Kindle edition at least was riddled with errors - whole passages went by with commas and full stops either missing or misplaced. Quite often speech marks were missing at the beginning of sentences so that you don't realise that someone is speaking until later on in the sentence. But most irritating of all is the use of the word 'discover' as a noun. It is not a noun, it is a verb , to discover. The correct singular of the word 'discoveries' is 'discovery'. Similarly, you don't look up a telephone number in a 'director' you use a 'directory'. Proofreading like that is unforgiveable.

On balance I enjoyed the book and the story but I feel it is completely let down by the unprofessional publishing.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointed, 31 Oct 2010
By 
D. C. A. Price "chrissie22" (Wharfedale) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Place of Secrets (Paperback)
I was looking forward so much to this book as I've very much enjoyed Rachel Hore's previous novels, but oh dear - what a let down. It seemed a laborious read to me, and although I found some parts interesting, in general things were so slow-moving. But the thing that irritated me most were the coincidences. Goodness me, they came thick and fast. One or two I could have accepted, but by the end of the book everyone appeared to be related in some way to everyone else and I would cite examples except that I wouldn't want to spoil the story for anyone who really does want to read this novel and make their own judgment. But be prepared to have your credulity stretched!
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A Place of Secrets
A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore
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