When Alfred Hitchcock was interviewed by French Director Francois Truffaut – necessary reading for any storyteller – he shared his analogy about how he created suspense in his films. Hitchock described suspense as two people having a conversation, but the audience knows that a bomb is patiently ticking away under their table.
The Song of Hartgrove Hall by Natasha Solomon is not a classic suspense butthe plot keeps you guessing. It is an epic drama that starts in March of 2000 when Harry Fox-Talbot mourns his late wife, Edie. Solomon then takes us back to post-WWII England and the decaying country manor, Hartgrove Hall. Three brothers – two who have returned from service and the youngest, Fox from university – have no means to keep their ancestral home. Around them, impoverished gentry and noble families witness the sale and destruction of their centuries’ old country homes. On a fated New Year’s Eve, Fox meets his brother’s glamorous girlfriend, a war-time celebrity singer named Edie Rose.
Solomons effortlessly stitches together the post war story of unrequited, forbidden love to Fox’s present. Suffering from a dark depression, his four year-old grandson’s astonishing musical talent is a beacon of light in his dreary existence.
As Hitchcock famously described suspense, Solomons kept me glued to the pages. Although I knew from the first chapter Fox and Edie eventually married and had children, I was dying to know how events transpired to bring them together.
This is a multilayered, intelligent story that will satisfy readers of historical fiction who long for drama and complicated characters.
The Song of Hartgrove Hall will release December 29, 2015. You can preorder the ebook or wait until it hits bookstore shelves.