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Customer Review

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Romantic and Undemanding Downtime Read, 6 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: The Silent Tide (Kindle Edition)
Rachel Hore's latest book is, like her previous novels, a romantic dual time-frame story which is shared between two young women: Emily Gordon in the present day and Isabel Barber in the 1940s and 1950s. In the present day we meet Emily, a young and attractive book editor, who works for Parchment Press, a London publishing house, which owns the publishing rights to the works of recently deceased novelist, Hugh Morton who, in the 1950s, wrote the best selling novel: 'The Silent Tide'. When her employers decide to commission a biography of Hugh Morton, Emily finds herself travelling to Stone House, Salmarsh, in Suffolk to meet Hugh's widow, the rather formidable Jacqueline. At Stone House, Emily meets Morton's biographer, Joel Richards, an ambitious and good-looking young man, who makes her aware that he finds her attractive. But Emily's affections are already spoken for as she is in love with Matthew, a tall and darkly handsome, but rather unreliable poet. However when Matthew calls a halt to their relationship, saying he needs more time and space for his writing, Emily throws herself into her work and, in consequence, becomes much more involved with the charming Joel than she intended. But Joel is not all he appears to be, and Emily soon becomes concerned about the Morton biography, feeling that Joel is allowing himself to become intimidated by the indomitable Jacqueline Morton, who has very firm ideas about what should be included in the biography of her beloved husband, which involves Joel practically ignoring the importance and influence of Morton's first wife, the beautiful and ambitious, Isabel.

In the late 1940s we meet Isabel Barber, a beautiful, auburn-haired young woman who runs away from home and turns up on the doorstep of her Aunt Penelope's London home. There she meets refugee Czech poet, Alex Berec, who helps her get a job at his publishers, McKinnon and Holt. At McKinnon and Holt, Isabel comes into contact with debut novelist Hugh Morton, an older, sophisticated man and, after a whirlwind romance, the pair fall in love and marry. Marriage, however, is not a bed of roses for young Isabel because Hugh expects her to give up her job at McKinnon and Holt to look after his ailing mother, Lavinia - but Isabel's work is not just a job in her eyes, she thinks of it as her career. And Lavinia Morton, a rather imperious and cold woman, has no hesitations in making Isabel aware that she thinks she is not good enough for Hugh, and when Hugh's old childhood sweetheart, Jacqueline, makes a reappearance on the scene and ingratiates herself into their lives, Isabel begins to think she might just be disappearing. (No spoilers - there is a lot more for prospective readers to discover).

Unashamedly romantic, Rachel Hore's latest novel makes for entertaining downtime reading. The author's description of both Emily's and Isabel's working life in publishing was very well-depicted and I enjoyed the descriptions of the Morton family home and its environs. The author also carefully described her main characters' appearances and personalities - although I would have liked to have learnt more of their inner thoughts and feelings, and I would have been interested in reading more about the Czechoslovakian poet, Alex Berec, and also more about Isabel's friend, Vivienne, a young Jewish scientist. I thought Isabel's frustration at having to give up her editing job was realistically portrayed by the author, as were the latter stages of Isabel's pregnancy and her post-natal depression. I should perhaps mention that I found some of the situations and language rather romantically cliched: "..my temptress, we must wait... I want you madly.." says Hugh when Isabel offers herself to him before their wedding and, later: "I want my wife and I will have her!" However, this is not intended to be a great literary novel; it has been written with entertainment firmly in mind - and, on that basis, I found this an enjoyable story which I started and finished in one long and very lazy sitting; so, in summary, if you are feeling in the mood for a light, romantic holiday, downtime or bedtime read, then this should fit the bill nicely.

3.5 Stars.
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