Tuesday 8 March 2022

The Marsh House by Zoe Somerville BLOG TOUR #TheMarshHouse @zoesomerville @HoZ_Books #BookReview


December, 1962. Desperate to create a happy Christmas for her young daughter, Franny, after a disastrous year, Malorie rents a remote house on the Norfolk coast. But once there, the strained silence between them feels louder than ever. As Malorie digs for decorations in the attic, she comes across the notebooks of the teenaged Rosemary, who lived in the house thirty years before. Trapped inside by a blizzard, and with long days and nights ahead of her, Malorie begins to read. Though she knows she needs to focus on the present, she finds herself inexorably drawn into the past...

July, 1931. Rosemary lives in the Marsh House with her austere father, surrounded by unspoken truths and rumours. So when the glamorous Lafferty family moves to the village, she succumbs easily to their charm. Dazzled by the beautiful Hilda and her dashing brother, Franklin, Rosemary fails to see the danger that lurks beneath their bright façades...

As Malorie reads Rosemary's diary, past and present begin to merge in this moving story of mothers and daughters, family obligation and deeply buried secrets.

The Marsh House by Zoe Somerville was published by Apollo / Head of Zeus on 3 March 2022. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review for this Blog Tour.

I read and reviewed Zoe Somerville's debut novel; The Night of the Flood back in November 2020. I said then that this was an author to watch. I am delighted to say that yes, you really should watch out for her. Her latest book; The Marsh House is another beautifully written story that captivated me from the opening pages. I enjoyed her first book, I ADORED this one. 

The author tells her story over two time lines, Rosemary's tale takes place in the 1930s whilst we hear about Malorie in the 1960s. These are two of my favourite eras to read about and the sense of time and place is just wonderfully done. Once again, as in her first book, the author makes the weather and the isolated, wild countryside of deepest Norfolk a huge part of the story. Marsh House itself is also a huge character here; the house weaves the two stories together so well, it's a creepy, almost supernatural story and the tension increases page by page. 

It is Christmas 1962 and Malorie has taken her small daughter to Norfolk. Although Malorie did grow up there, she's been in London since she left home years ago. It was there that she met and married her husband Tony, and also where her life began to disintegrate. It is clear that Malorie is very troubled. She's impetuous, arriving at a run-down house, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of winter with just a small child who she doesn't seem to have much of a relationship with. Malorie's Mother recently died and she gave her a photograph of The Marsh House, implying that Malorie may find out something about herself there. 

At first, all they seem to find are spiders, dust and a grubby unkempt house. Not the most ideal place to spend the Christmas break and it becomes clear that Malorie is teetering on the edge of a breakdown. When she decides that they must decorate the house, ready for Christmas, she discovers some very old journals in the attic. As Malorie begins to read, the author relates the story of Rosemary; a girl who lived in Marsh House over thirty years ago.

Rosemary's story is electrifying. She writes from an unknown location, the reader is not sure what happened to her and why she is there, but as she gradually reveals the full horror of her life through the words on the page, the reader can only empathise with her. 

Malorie becomes obsessed with Rosemary and her story. She questions the locals in the village to see what she can discover about Rosemary today, but they are tight-lipped and suspicious of his woman who comes and pokes her nose in. 

This is a truly glorious read and one that I lapped up in a couple of sittings. I was fascinated by the connections between Rosemary and Malorie and stunned by the final reveal, as was Malorie herself. 

This author excels at plot building, her descriptions of the landscape and the biting chill of the snowy weather adds such depth to what is already a wonderful story. Her characters are completely flawed, they do things that are questionable, yet totally believable, given their circumstances. 

An absolute beauty of a book and most certainly will be amongst my top books of the year. 

When I read the Author's Notes at the back of the book, I realised all of a sudden why I loved this so much. She talks about inspirations and mentions the book When Marnie Was There by Joan G Robinson.
I loved that book as a child. I can still remember taking it out from the mobile library that came to our village and being spellbound by it, I read it over and over again.  I think I may read it again very soon. 

Zoe Somerville will be at Waterstone's in Norwich on the evening of Wednesday 22 March, at 7pm. She will be discussing her book, alongside author Polly Crosby

Please visit this link for more information 


Zoë Somerville is originally from Norfolk, but has settled with her husband and children in the West

She works as an English teacher. 

Zoë began her debut novel, The Night of the Flood on the Bath Spa Creative Writing MA in 2016. 

It was published in September 2020. 

Her second novel, The Marsh House, a ghost story and mystery is published in March 2022. 

She is currently writing her third novel

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