Title: The House on Bellevue Gardens
Author: Rachel Hore
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rosa has arrived in London from Poland to look for her younger brother Mikhail. He is supposed to be staying with their English father, but when she visits the house she finds it’s locked up and there’s no sign of either of them. She urgently needs work and somewhere to live while she continues her search, but what can she do and where can she go?
Stef is running away from her boyfriend Oliver and the claustrophobic life she’s been living in his opulent flat. Frightened, friendless and far from her family, she needs somewhere to hide.
Rick is living in a limbo, a shy young man hiding from the world to write and draw and dream. How will he find fulfilment?
All three find refuge at 11 Belvue Gardens, the shabbiest house of a smart white-painted Georgian terrace in North London. Here, its owner Leonie herself once found sanctuary following a short career as a model in the sixties and a destructive marriage. Now, out of gratitude, she opens her house to others in need.
However, as she helps Stef and Rosa and Rick to find their way, Leonie finds that once again the very foundations of her own life and happiness are under threat.
I really enjoyed the other novels I’ve read by Rachel Hore, and eagerly anticipated reading this one. It moves a bit away from the style of many of the other novels that I’ve read – often moving between time frames with an element of mystery linking characters in the past and present together, etc. This novel still had two time frames – current day, where the majority was set, and small parts from the 1960’s, showing Leonie’s life as a model in London.
The story was nice enough to read, with characters developing as the storywent on, but it lacked any real tension or mystery/ unexpected links between the two time frames, and the characters – although nice enough – didn’t really grab me like her other novels have done. The story is quite slow paced which I suppose does allow the reader to get to know the characters more this way – it just didn’t draw me in the way I hope it would.
I would definitely say that if you haven’t read any other books by Rachel Hore, start with either The Silent Tide or A Gathering Storm, as they’re probably my favourites and I utterly love the style and changing time-frames within those novels. Sadly The House on Vellevue Gardens just didn’t live up to my expectations – I think the bar has just been set too high by some of her other novels, to be honest! It’s a pleasant enough read, though, and has a fairly satisfying ending, so it would be fine if you want something fairly easy to read and not too demanding.