Inside the glass orb was a miniature garden and a house. If she stared long enough, she could almost see the people inside. But whether they were trapped there, or kept safe, in that miniscule snowbound world, she couldn't have said...
Christmas 1926 holds bright promise for nineteen-year-old Daisy Forbes, with celebrations under way at Eden Hall, her family's country estate in Surrey, England. But when Daisy, the youngest of three daughters, discovers that her adored father, Howard, has been leading a double life, her illusions of perfection are shattered. Worse, his current mistress, introduced as a family friend, is joining them for the holidays. As Daisy wrestles with the truth, she blossoms in her own right, receiving a marriage proposal from one man, a declaration of love from another, and her first kiss from a third. Meanwhile, her mother, Mabel, manages these social complications with outward calm, while privately reviewing her life and contemplating significant changes. And among those below stairs, Nancy, the housekeeper, and Mrs. Jessops, the cook, find that their long-held secrets are slowly beginning to surface...
As the seasons unfold in the new year, and Daisy moves to London, desires, fortunes, and loyalties will shift during this tumultuous time after the Great War. The Forbes family and those who serve them will follow their hearts down unexpected paths that always return to where they began...Eden Hall.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
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PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF JUDITH KINGHORN
For my mother, Elizabeth
Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it.
When Eden Hall was first built, the local newspaper received a number of letters about its electric lights. They were dangerous, too bright, and had no place in the country, people wrote. These Londoners should stay in the city if they wanted that sort of thing.
A quarter of a century later, and two weeks before Christmas, Eden Hall was once again in the newspaper. This time not because of its size or bright lights, or in fact because of anything to do with it, but because eighteen-year-old Daisy Forbes had joined the nationwide manhunt for missing writer Agatha Christie and had volunteered her family home as a meeting point for those searching the surrounding hills and valley known as the Devil’s Punchbowl.
“Volunteers wishing to assist the Police in the search are invited to meet at Eden Hall this Saturday, December 11th, at 9 o’clock . . . Refreshments and facilities will be available,” the paper stated at the end of its front-page bulletin, titled THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE.
By nine o’clock on Saturday morning more than 150 people had converged on Eden Hall, and more kept coming. They stood about in the dank December gloom, clutching Mabel Forbes’s Crown Derby and Wedgwood china as Daisy and Mrs. Jessop, the cook, refilled cups from the large tea urn.
For seven days, ever since Mrs. Christie’s Morris Cowley motorcar had been found abandoned at a nearby lake with an expired driving license in it, the nation had been gripped, and like the airplanes scouring the countryside, conjecture buzzed in the icy air: Had Mrs. Christie been kidnapped? Had she been murdered? Was her husband in some way involved?
When the local police constable climbed onto the old mounting block with a megaphone, a hush descended and heads turned. The policeman spoke in a solemn voice; it was a grave and serious situation, he said. He pointed to the map pinned to the coach-house doors, asking everyone to note the areas marked with red ribbon and requesting that they organize themselves into groups of four or five. No one, he advised, should walk through the valley of Devil’s Punchbowl alone.
Daisy listened as grisly questions were tossed through the mist at PC Trotton; murmurings and then louder debates broke out in huddles. A man had been seen behaving suspiciously down at the crossroads two days earlier. Yes, a few had seen him. No, he wasn’t from these parts. An outsider. But was he a murderer, too? Was the man lurking in the fog-shrouded heathland waiting to strike again? For some minutes PC Trotton struggled to regain control of the assembled crowd; then he remembered his megaphone and reminded everyone in a newly stern voice that, as yet, no crime had been committed.
It was almost ten o’clock when Stephen Jessop strolled across the gritted courtyard to Daisy. The last group—with knapsacks, binoculars and sticks—had already disappeared through the five-barred gate into the woods, accompanied by Trotton and two of his colleagues.
“Thanks for waiting . . . Sorry I’m late,” said Stephen, rubbing his hands together, then cupping them over his mouth.
“We’re meant to be in groups of four or five, Stephen, not two.”
“Ah, but that’s probably for those who don’t know the terrain. And we do.”
“No, it’s for reasons of safety, Trotton said.”
Stephen smiled. “Well, you’re perfectly safe with me.”
Daisy shook her head and began to walk. “Why are you so late?” she asked.
“I slept in.”
“I can’t believe you slept in when all this is happening. I’ve barely had any sleep and been awake since half past five.”
“Yes, well . . . you are a little obsessed.”
“Obsessed? I’m concerned—like everyone else. Apart from you, it would seem.”
“I’ve told you what I think. It’s a publicity stunt. Has to be.”
“I don’t think the government would be quite so involved if it were just a publicity stunt, Stephen. I read that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s very worried now, too. He’s given a spirit medium one of Mrs. Christie’s gloves so that she can use it to try to find her,” she added, turning to him as she walked through the oak gate into the woods. Overhead, the now-familiar burring of a small airplane circling distracted her, and she paused to look up. “Yes, all very queer,” she said. She lowered her gaze, met his eyes. “What? Why are you smiling?”
“No reason,” he said, and they walked on beneath the evergreens.
Three years older than Daisy, Stephen had lived at Eden Hall since the summer of 1909, when the Jessops adopted him. The then four-year-old orphan had come down from London on a train accompanied by a cousin of Mrs. Jessop, and though Daisy had no memory of that momentous day, she had heard how very shy Stephen had been and how very happy Mrs. Jessop had been to meet her new son.
For all intents and purposes a general servant, Stephen had been officially employed at Eden Hall since he’d finished school at fourteen. More recently, after the scandal of the previous year, when Howard Forbes’s chauffeur had put a young kitchen maid in the familyway and Howard had sent them both packing, Stephen had been called on to step in. He had never driven a motorcar, but Howard had told him that it was easy enough and that he could spend an hour or two practicing on the driveway. And so up and down and up and down Stephen and the Rolls went, clanking and grinding, juddering and stalling, as Daisy and her sisters looked on. The girls had anticipated—almost hoped for—a repeat of Aunt Dosia’s performance of earlier that year, when she’d decided to have a go in Howard’s old Austin Twenty and had—at some speed—driven the vehicle straight off the driveway through the Japanese garden and into the lily pond. But no such drama occurred, and now Stephen was Jessop and lived above the garages in the coachman’s flat.
He was, Daisy often thought, the nearest thing she had to a brother—an elder brother—because he’d always been exactly how she imagined one to be: protective, informative, knowledgeable and sometimes teasing.
Halfway down into the valley, standing on the ridge by the old wooden bridge, Daisy lifted her father’s binoculars from their leather case. The mist was clearing, the low winter sun breaking through the vaporous cloud, picking up flecks of color in the otherwise drab and scrawny heathland. Far below, she could see clusters of people moving in and out of the shadows on the tree-lined pathways.
“Everyone seems to be heading in the same direction . . . toward Thursley,” she said. “Trotton specifically said we had to spread ourselves out, not follow each other,” she added, putting away the binoculars and turning to Stephen, who was rolling a cigarette. “I don’t know how you can do that at a time like this.” She jumped down from the embankment. “Don’t you realize? This is international news.”
Stephen said nothing. He tilted his head, lifted his lighter to the cigarette.
“You’re so annoying,” she said, watching him. “If poor Mrs. Christie is found, it’ll be no thanks to you.”
Beneath his cap his dark hair looked greasy and uncombed. He obviously hadn’t had time to shave or to wash, she thought. He wore the dark green scarf she had given him last Christmas, knotted at the front of his pale neck and tucked into his sweater, his jacket collar pulled up high around it. He shivered and then stamped his feet as he sucked on his cigarette. “Come on, then,” he said, walking on. “Who’s dallying now?” he called back, jogging off beneath the pine trees.
By the time Daisy caught up with him they were at the very bottom of the valley, where the stream was wider and gushed in a torrent over rocks and boulders swept down from the hills over millennia. He sat upon a tree stump and made a point of looking at his wristwatch.
“Yes, very funny,” she said, not looking at him, walking slowly toward him. “There may have been a murder committed and you’re treating it as though . . . as though it’s all some sort of game.”
“I don’t believe we’re going to find Mrs. Christie—or any clues to her disappearance—around here, that’s all. Her car was left at Newlands Corner, Daisy. That’s some miles away.”
“Then why bother to come along? You were the one who first suggested we look here.”
He stood up, took off his cap. His hair was dirty. He looked a state.
“Were you perchance at the Coach and Horses last night?” she asked, kicking at the soft earth with her boot.
He took a moment to reply. He said, “Yes, I was. And I’m sorry for being late, and for being . . . flippant.”
“Will you forgive me?”
She turned to him, blinked and shrugged her shoulders. “I always do, don’t I?”
“Yes, you do,” he said, newly contrite, unsmiling, staring back at her. “Always.”
“It’s important for a Theosophist to give back and to forgive,” she said, walking on.
Stephen smiled. “Remind me again what it’s all about.”
“It’s about the reciprocal effects the universe and humanity have on each other . . . the connectness of the external world and inner experience,” she said, stopping to pick up a tiny piece of bark and looking at it closely. “To acquire wisdom one has to examine nature in its smallest detail . . . Like this,” she said, stretching out her hand.
He took the bark, stared at it for a moment or two, then looked back at her. “What wisdom is there to be gleaned from this?”
“That’s for you to find out.”
He put it inside his jacket pocket and they walked on beneath the pines, then out into the beautiful wild expanse, following the old packhorse tracks of smugglers, sandy pathways through tall gorse and dark holly, juniper and thorn. Daisy spoke at length about what she had read of the case in the preceding days’ newspapers, pausing every once in a while to summarize her conclusions or pose a question to herself or simply to stare out across the wilderness and say, “Hmm, I wonder . . .”
It was shortly after midday when they sat down on the wall under the stunted tree by the deserted cottage some three miles from Eden Hall. Daisy lifted two hard-boiled eggs from the canvas fishing-tackle bag she had worn strapped across her, as well as a bottle of Mrs. Jessop’s homemade ginger beer.
“So very peculiar,” she said for the umpteenth time. “No sign of a struggle . . . no ransom . . . no body . . . no witnesses,” she went on. “And yet, I can’t help but feel the answer’s right in front of us all.”
Stephen said nothing.
Other than a child’s shoe—which, for some reason, Daisy had picked up and put into her bag—and, here and there, the remains of campfires and discarded bottles, they had found nothing. They had passed some of the other searchers, heading back in the direction of Eden Hall and shaking their heads, and walked through a small gypsy encampment where a grubby-faced boy had raised his hands to his ears and stuck his tongue out at them.
“Perhaps she’s taken a turn, like Noonie,” Stephen said, using the family’s nickname for Daisy’s grandmother, Mabel Forbes’s mother. “Perhaps she’s suffering from amnesia.”
Daisy turned to him. “But Mrs. Christie’s not old. She’s younger than my mother.”
“Just a thought . . . and I hope for your sake it’s not what I think it is. Otherwise, she’s made a bit of a laughingstock of us all.”
Daisy shook her head. She passed him the brown bottle. “This,” she said, “is no publicity stunt, Stephen, I can assure you. It’s gone beyond anything like that.”
They sat in silence for a while, peeling hard-boiled eggs, flicking small pieces of shell onto the sandy earth around them.
“You’re not still thinking of emigrating, are you?” Daisy asked.
It was an idea Stephen had only recently mentioned to her. He’d told her that he’d seen advertisements offering help with one’s passage to New Zealand, as well as help with finance to set up a farm.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “What do you think?”
“I told you, I think it’s an awful idea,” she said quickly. “Think how sad your mother would be.”
“Yes, and me . . . I’d hate it if you weren’t here.”
“Because,” she said, smiling back at him, “who would there be to annoy me?”
“I’m sure you’d find someone.”
High above, two birds fought with each other, ducking and diving, moving in circles, squawking loudly in the otherwise silent valley.
“I think it’s an awful idea,” Daisy said again. “To leave your home and go off to the other side of the world.”
Stephen turned to her. “But it’s not my home. It’s your home, and my parents’ home, I suppose. I don’t really know where I fit in here.”
“I thought you were happy, thought you loved this place.”
He nodded. “I do, I do, but . . . well, it’s hard to explain and probably impossible for you to understand.”
“Try me,” she said, reaching over and taking the bottle from his hand.
He sighed, pulled out his packet of tobacco and cigarette papers. “It’s complicated,” he said. “But I imagine I might feel differently if I’d known my real parents.”
“Ah, I see,” said Daisy, as though it all made perfect sense to her now.
“It’s not that I’m unhappy,” he said, glancing up at her.
“What is it, then?” she asked, watching his fingers roll the tobacco.
He shrugged. “Just the not knowing, I suppose.”
“I’ve told you before, you should ask your mother.”
Stephen shook his head. “I can’t. She’s never raised the subject with me, and I don’t want to upset her, don’t want her to think I need something more, or that she’s not been a good mother to me, because she has and I love her dearly,” he added, lighting his cigarette. “I love both my parents.”
“Then you can’t leave them. I know it would break your mother’s heart if you sailed off to another continent. She’d never see you again. You’d never see her.”
“Perhaps . . . perhaps,” he said, nodding, pondering, looking downward. “But I can’t stay here. Not if I want to do something with my life,” he added, looking up at Daisy.
By the time they set off back in the direction of Eden Hall, Daisy had forgotten about Mrs. Christie’s disappearance. The only disappearance she could think of was Stephen’s: suggested, impending and hanging in the damp, pine-scented air between them. But it was impossible for her to imagine the world—her world—without him in it.
To Daisy, Stephen Jessop belonged more to that place than she and her sisters, or even her mother and father. He knew every pathway, each copse and dell. Together, they had pioneered the woodland, fields and valleys around them. Together, they had named every plant and tree. He had been the one to teach her which mushrooms were poisonous and which were not, and about didicoys and travelers, and the legends of the Devil’s Punchbowl. He’d risked his life climbing up trees, crawling along branches, just to bring down a nest or eggs to show her; been the one who’d taken her to see the fox cubs and watch the badger set at dusk, the one who’d made her a slingshot and shown her how to use it, and the one who’d given her three marbles, a jar of tadpoles and a hawk-moth caterpillar for her tenth birthday.
And Stephen knew everyone, too, even those passing through, like the tramp who had once marched up and down at the crossroads with a stick on his shoulder, sometimes shouting up at the sky. Another casualty of the war, Stephen had explained.
“He thinks his name’s Fletch, but he can’t remember much else.”
“You mean he doesn’t know where he lives?” Daisy had asked.
“Where he lived,” Stephen had corrected her. “No, he can’t recall where he’s from, or where he was before the war, but he thinks it may have begun with a B. Of course, he thinks he’s still in the army, on duty, which is why he marches up and down like that. He’s keeping watch.”
“But he might have a family somewhere . . . looking for him.”
“Or more likely presuming him dead.”
Daisy had suggested that perhaps Captain Clark could help Fletch, but Stephen had said he didn’t think so, that Captain Clark, too, was “damaged.”
Captain Clark lived in the same lodgings as old Mrs. Reed, the former cook at Eden Hall, and was another who walked in that soldierly way, following a line, lifting his feet a little too high, his arms straight down by his sides. Daisy had seen plenty of war veterans, particularly up in town, where they slept on park benches and sat about on the pavement or in wheelchairs outside tube stations, selling matches or begging. And even those with limbs—without any obvious physical injury—were easy enough to spot because of that walk . . . or the strange haunted look in their eyes . . . or the tics.
It had been the previous winter, when food was disappearing from the larder and Nancy, the housekeeper, had told Mabel and Mabel had told Daisy and Daisy knew that it was Stephen—taking it for Fletch, because she had been the one to suggest it—that Captain Clark shot himself. He had gone in to lunch as usual, then gone for his constitutional up on the hill and put a bullet in his head. Mrs. Jessop had said it was sad but at least he had no family and hadn’t done it in poor Mrs. Reed’s earshot (which, and regardless of the pun, struck Daisy as a stupid remark because everyone knew Mrs. Reed was quite deaf). It had been in the newspaper, and there had been an inquest, which told them what they all knew anyway: that it had been suicide resulting from “unsound mind.” Shortly after that, Fletch had disappeared.
Long before Fletch, during the war, Stephen had attended lessons in the schoolroom with Daisy and a few other local children. And he had been included in every birthday party, each nursery tea: teas with the ruddy-faced, tartan-clad cousins from Scotland, and teas with the silent children recently moved to the area whom Daisy’s mother had taken a shine to. “New friends!” Mabel would say, clapping her hands together. Those had been the worst teas: tense affairs with spilled drinks and red faces and curious, resentful stares.
And then there were the pea-flicking, bread-throwing children from London.
They weren’t all orphans, Stephen had explained; some of them had parents, but they were too poor to look after them. These children had continued to come each summer during the war, and for a few years after it, sleeping in the night nursery—turned into a dormitory—at the top of the house, a different group each year. They were anything but silent. They came through windows rather than use doors and slid down the banisters rather than use the stairs. They loved fighting and swearing and climbing—walls, trees, drainpipes and the greenhouse roof, until two of them fell through. They all had nits, and rivulets of green running from their noses to their mouths, wiped onto their sleeves. Almost all of them smoked, and they liked to start fires and give people frights, and they were always hungry. “Bleedin’ starvin’,” they said, each day, at every time of day.
Everyone’s nerves were frayed to tatters by the time they left. But Stephen had been the go-between, able to understand them as well as he did Daisy and her sisters.
Even now, Daisy often thought of Janet Greenwell, whose head had been shaved and whose sad little legs were paler and thinner than any Daisy had ever seen. And she remembered the crippled boy, Neville, a caliper on his leg and such thick lenses in his spectacles that they made his eyes appear small. “Crippled Chinky,” the others had called him, shouted after him as he limped off up the brick pathway of the walled garden.
Only once had Daisy summoned the courage to confront them, only once had she shouted back at them that they were cruel bullies and then gone after Neville, whom she’d found slumped next to the rabbit hutch, his stiff leg stretched out in front of him, like a war veteran—but without any medals for bravery.
“They don’t mean to be vile; they’re just ignorant,” she’d said, sitting down next to him on the grass, longing to wrap her arms round him. He’d not said anything, had quietly wept, wiping his nose on his gray shirtsleeve, staring through his thick spectacles at his useless leg.
The day before Neville left, Daisy gave him the book she had won at the flower show for her vegetable animal (a horse, made from potato, carrots and peas, with ribbons of cucumber peel for its mane and tail, had earned her second prize and a “highly commended” badge from the judges). She had thought long and hard about which book to give him but plumped for A Shropshire Lad mainly because of that word, lad. Inside, she wrote, “Dear Neville, I hope I’ll see you again and that you’ll come back here one day without the others. Yours, Daisy M. Forbes.” When she told Stephen, he’d shaken her hand and told her that she was the kindest person he knew.
Always, after these children had gone, Eden Hall returned to its usual quiet and calm. It was a place of order and routine and of bells—to announce breakfast or lessons or lunch; the dressing bell, the dinner bell, each day had been punctuated by that sound. Months, seasons and years had passed and the bell still sounded. For Daisy, little had changed. But the thought of Eden Hall without Stephen, the idea of his not being there, of never seeing him again . . .
No, Stephen couldn’t emigrate, Daisy thought, watching him walk on ahead of her, pulling back gorse and holly and brambles as they made their way through thickets and knee-high heather. She would speak to her father, she decided; wait until he was home for Christmas, find the right time and speak to him about all of this then. After all, he’d been the one to sort the legalities of Stephen’s adoption, and he might even be able to offer Stephen a job at the factory . . . Either way, she concluded, her father would know what to do. He always did.
Situated in a quiet enclave of the Surrey Hills known as Little Switzerland, Eden Hall was one of a number of newer mansions hidden from sight. Tall hedges, trees and banks of rhododendrons screened it from traffic passing along the road to its south, but its gated entrance and long curving driveway hinted at what lay beyond.
In autumn and winter, the house and its gardens were often lost, engulfed by the swirling mists and low cloud. But in early spring, when the mists cleared and before the trees were covered with leaves, a few of the upper rooms at Eden Hall commanded spectacular views across three counties: Surrey, to the north and east; Sussex, to the south; and Hampshire, to the west.
Howard Forbes claimed that, on a clear day, beyond the distant northerly ridge known as the Hog’s Back, one could even make out the dome of St. Paul’s—though more often than not, the only visible sign of the capital was the dense smog belched up from the city’s multitudinous chimneys and factories. But somewhere on that murky horizon stood a street named Clanricarde Gardens and the Forbes family’s London home: a stucco-fronted town house Howard had inherited at twenty-two years of age.
Eden Hall was different. For Howard, it represented his own achievements, the culmination of and testament to his hard work: his dream, his vision, built with the proceeds from his thriving business, Forbes and Sons. The company, passed down through three generations, manufactured white lead, oil paint and varnish at its large factory at Forbes’s Wharf in Ratcliff, Middlesex. Its products included special anticorrosive paints and antioxidation compositions for ships, as well as their famous patented white zinc paint, which was claimed not to stain or discolor.
At the dawn of the new century, shortly before his marriage and as a thirtieth birthday present to himself, Howard had purchased his acreage in Surrey, which included an old farm. Later, standing on the lofty site clutching the hand of his eighteen-year-old bride, Mabel, and with an emerging local architect named Edwin Lutyens, Howard Forbes had looked out over the far-reaching views and explained his vision to Mr. Lutyens: a substantial country house with impressive lines, tall chimneys and immense gabled rooftops. He had stipulated windows, lots of them—round ones, square ones, large and small—and doors a giant could walk through. He wanted something future generations could be proud of.
Howard got what he wanted: a grand country house in the medieval vernacular style, and with its double-height entrance hall, sweeping staircase and oak paneling, double-height drawing room and oriel windows, the place was every bit as impressive as Howard Forbes’s vision. And yet there was some humbleness about the place, too, Howard thought, for Mr. Lutyens had used only locally sourced timber, stone and bricks and had retained a few of the old barns and cottages from the original farm.
Despite its appearance, inside, Eden Hall was modern—twentieth-century modern: It had electricity, central heating and two bathrooms, with running hot water, flushing lavatories and William De Morgan ceramic tiles. But it had been Mabel who’d been responsible for the interior decor, for the Morris & Co. bedroom wallpapers and curtains and for the velvets and silks and hand-printed linens. She had chosen every paint color and textile, each item of furniture. And having put her own stamp on the place, and with a natural preference for country living anyhow, Mabel decided early on to make Eden Hall the family’s primary residence.
Mabel had grown up in the country; it was what she knew, where she felt happiest and most comfortable. Howard, she said—and thought—would be able to divide his time between London and Eden Hall, and while he was working, she would throw herself into creating that home, a country idyll: a place her husband could escape to from the stresses and strains of the city, a place where their children could grow up with space and fresh air in abundance. She would, she’d conceded, visit London—particularly during the season, and particularly if they had daughters. They had both laughed at this.
Howard and Mabel had been fully committed to having a large family, and Howard—like any normal man, he’d said—wanted sons and needed them to carry on the business he had taken over from his father. But of the eight babies Mabel had conceived and the four she had carried to full term, only the three girls survived. Howard’s longed-for son and heir, born prematurely during the war and named Theo, after Howard’s father, had clung to life for only seven weeks.
But Howard and Mabel’s plans had been fulfilled, in part. For while Howard spent his weekdays in the city, Mabel had remained with her daughters at Eden Hall, establishing a home—that country idyll they had both longed for—managing the house and gardens and staff and attending to her charity work. And when Iris, their eldest daughter, moved out, Mabel’s mother moved in. Now newly married Lily also lived in London and only Daisy remained at home.
Like the interior of the house, the gardens at Eden Hall were a testament to Mabel. For a quarter of a century she had helped seed, sow and water; watched and waited. And, like Mabel, Eden Hall and its gardens had matured. The house’s honey-hued stone had mellowed to a silvery gray and its garden’s once inadequate shrubs had taken on more voluptuous shapes. The landscape overflowed with rhododendrons and hardy shrubbery, softened by the billowing herbaceous borders and broad, sweeping south lawns, where a gritted terrace stood guard like a moat between man and nature. And the Japanese garden, with its drooping wisteria, azaleas, bamboo and acers, its pond with water lilies, miniature stone bridge and stone lanterns, was Mabel’s pride and joy, and only just coming into its own, she claimed.
The main driveway wound a circuitous route through the scenic western gardens, where the rhododendrons loomed largest and a few ancient trees remained, before emerging in front of the south-facing house with its vast oriel windows and broad front door. The driveway then continued through an archway to the courtyard, cottages, coach house and garages, and, eventually, became the back driveway, or tradesman’s entrance, and ran down the eastern side of Howard Forbes’s estate to the road.
To the north of the house, brick pathways led to the tennis court, the orchard and the pink-walled kitchen gardens and greenhouses. Beyond this, the land fell away steeply to woodland, where bridle paths and tracks zigzagged beneath the lofty pine trees into the valley known as the Devil’s Punchbowl.
Shortly after the house was completed, the National Trust had acquired this land, and it had become a popular place for walkers and ramblers, particularly in the summer months, when Howard had from time to time found campers behind the northern shrubbery, or short-trousered foreigners ambling across his striped lawns. However, invariably polite, he had sometimes taken these tourists on a guided tour of his property and offered them a glass of sherry at the end of it.
More than any trespassers, the ever-increasing number of local property developers irked both Howard and Mabel. The new houses being built on the nearby site of the recently demolished mansion the Laurels, now to be known as Laurel Close, made them both privately wonder if Eden Hall, too, would one day be demolished. Would theirs and Mr. Lutyens’s vision—their painstaking planning over windows and aspects and views—be reduced to rubble and dust, only to reemerge in the shape of a dozen poorly built houses, sold off at exorbitant prices and collectively known as Edenhall Close? It seemed to be the way things were going. What had once been secluded and peaceful, sought after for its natural beauty and charm, was changing.
“The world won’t be content until it has motored here, there and everywhere—honking its horn, widening every road and putting up electricity cables and streetlights,” Howard had recently said to his wife. Mabel had thought better than to remind him that he was a horn honker himself, or that they had added to the cables and lighting in that part of the world.
Howard had been like this a lot recently: agitated and complaining. Fearful. It was his age, Mabel thought; he felt out of step with the times. Modern times. And though she sometimes felt this way also, she was quietly determined not to fall too far behind. But it was tricky, a balancing act, she thought, to set an example for her daughters, to hand on wisdom and age gracefully, while wanting—still feeling the need—to live and have new experiences.
“New experiences!” Dosia, her sister-in-law, had declared to her the last time they had seen each other in London. “That’s what you need, Mabe. What we all need.”
Mabel had created an idyll, an orderly idyll, where the dressing bell sounded at six thirty and the dinner bell at seven twenty-five, but she was bored of bells and order. She was bored of Eden Hall. She had had no new experiences for a quarter of a century, and what she longed for, privately longed for more than anything else, was a lover.
Ten days before Christmas, Mrs. Christie was found, alive and well and staying at a hydropathic hotel in Harrogate, where—Iris told Daisy—she had been registered under another name: that of her husband’s mistress.
“What an almighty lark,” Iris said on the telephone. “And all to teach that wretched husband of hers a lesson.”
“Do you honestly think she planned it all?” asked Daisy.
“Of course!” shrieked Iris. “And what a brilliant wheeze.”
“Really? I read that it’s cost the country a fortune and been the biggest manhunt in history.”
“Hmm, well, the bill should certainly be dispatched to Colonel Christie,” Iris said and snorted. She seemed to find it all amusing, like everything else.
“Poor Dodo,” Iris went on, “I know you’ve been awfully caught up in the whole thing—Mummy said—but it has been frightfully entertaining . . . We should all be writing to Mrs. Christie to thank her for keeping us so riveted.”
Daisy shook her head. She felt for Mrs. Christie—because of her marriage problems, and hoped they wouldn’t interfere with her ability to write—but she also felt cheated. For if what Iris said was true, if Mrs. Christie had staged the whole thing simply to teach her husband a lesson, the whole country had been nothing more than pawns in her own domestic squabble. Stephen was right. Either way, it seemed as though the writer’s disappearance had been some sort of publicity stunt . . . and what publicity she had garnered.
“Are you excited about Christmas, Dodo? Have you unpacked your snow globe yet?” Iris asked.
Daisy rolled her eyes. “I am eighteen, you know. I’ve grown out of all that.”
Iris laughed. “Oh, darling, we all know what you’re like.”
“Have you been out dancing much?” Daisy asked.
Dancing: It was Iris’s obsession. And everybody was doing it, she said, even the Prince of Wales, whose dancing she raved about—“Such fabulous rhythm and so extraordinarily light on his feet!”—and with whom she had danced on more than one occasion at the Embassy in Old Bond Street. It was Iris’s favorite club and only a short walk from her second favorite, the Grafton Galleries. These places and others seemed to be like second homes to Iris, and Daisy had heard enough about them to know them all, vicariously.
“Almost every night . . . London’s simply devastating,” drawled Iris.
Devastating: It was Iris’s favorite word. She used it to describe almost everything, or everything she had a passion for, but it had to be said in a particular way, and in a much deeper tone of voice. And it wasn’t just people or places that were devastating to Iris; even a hat could be “simply devastating.”
“And when are you coming down?”
“I’m not sure . . . maybe Christmas Eve.”
“I rather think you’re expected to be here before then.”
“Really? Oh, well, maybe I’ll cadge a ride back with Howard, if I can bear it.”
Iris was always so mean about their father, and for absolutely no reason. “You can always get the train,” Daisy suggested.
Iris laughed again. “Have to dash now. Bye, darling,” she said, and the line went dead.
When Daisy walked into the hallway, her mother was standing in front of the Christmas tree with a clipboard and pen. Scattered around the tree and across the floor were the tattered boxes and crates Daisy had helped Mr. Blundell bring down from the attics.
“We really do need to get the thing decorated,” said Mabel.
The thing? It was a tree. A magnificent Christmas tree, thought Daisy, staring up at it.
“The electric lights will only be a problem if your father gets involved,” Mabel went on. “He has an uncanny knack of breaking the wretched things.”
More things. What was wrong with her? They were beautiful lights. Prettier than any others Daisy had seen. “Blundy said he’d help me decorate the thing tomorrow morning.”
Her mother slid her a look. “It could’ve been done by now, Daisy. If you spent less time wandering about dreaming, less time chatting on the telephone—which, may I remind you, is very costly and not what it’s designed for—you would achieve more . . . And please don’t roll your eyes like that,” she added.
“We must make sure the tree’s decorated and the lights are up and working before your father arrives home,” Mabel said. Then she turned and marched off down the passageway toward her boudoir.
Maybe she was cross with Howard, Daisy mused, watching her mother disappear into a doorway. He had not been home in more than two weeks. But it was a busy time for him. He had had various dinners and functions to attend up in London and had long ago stopped asking Mabel to accompany him, because, as everyone knew, she didn’t enjoy those sorts of events and preferred to be at Eden Hall. And yet, though Mabel claimed to love the place—and ran it like a sergeant major, Daisy thought—she no longer seemed to enjoy it in the way she once had. She spoke about it as though it was a job, and a job she had grown weary of. She was like a Henry James heroine, one of those formidable women whose sense of duty left them unable to breathe properly.
When Daisy stepped outside, the sky was translucent. A fiery sun shone through the black trees and danced on the moth-colored stone. She found Stephen shutting up the greenhouse, a solitary figure in the peaceful shadows of the walled garden, where hen coops and a long-vacated rabbit hutch stood in a far corner. There, too, were the little house and wire-covered run once inhabited by Sherlock, Daisy’s tortoise, who’d failed to wake from his hibernation the previous spring and whose grave lay on the other side of the wall, next to that of a goat named Charlie.
“You were right,” said Daisy, walking up the brick pathway toward Stephen. “It seems it was all just some massive publicity stunt.” She had decided it would be indiscreet to share Mrs. Christie’s personal problems with him.
“Mrs. Christie . . . her disappearance.”
He was unusually quiet, and she followed him back to the yard and watched him as he began to stack logs on a wheelbarrow.
“What do you think of my coat?” she asked, referring to the long fur coat her grandmother had given her, and suddenly desperate for him to look up at her.
“Noonie’s?” he asked, glancing at her only very briefly.
“Not anymore. She’s given it to me.”
“It suits you,” he said, without any smile.
“So what are you doing tonight? Do you want to come and play some cards? Listen to the wireless? You know my grandmother’s just bought another—so she can have one in her room, next to her bed, and the new one in the drawing room.”
He stretched his arms up into the air, interlinked his fingers and brought them down on his cap. “I don’t think so, Daisy . . . not tonight.”
The lights in house were being switched on, illuminating the gritted courtyard, pulling them out of the shadows. Mr. Blundell, the butler, was on his rounds.
“It’s getting cold. You should go inside,” said Stephen, staring at her.
“I don’t want to. Not yet. I want to stay here and talk to you . . . I feel as though you’re angry with me and I don’t know why. Is it about the whole Mrs. Christie thing?” she asked. “Because if it is, or was, I’m sorry I was so pigheaded and dragged you into it all. And I’m actually rather cross myself—with her.”
Stephen laughed. He pulled off his cap and ran a hand through his hair. “I’m not angry with you. I’m never angry with you. You know that. But I do get . . .”
“Frustrated, I suppose.”
“Yes,” he said quickly, tilting his head to one side, narrowing his eyes.
“I see,” she said, though she didn’t and couldn’t. “Well, I can only apologize . . . because I really don’t mean to be.”
“I know this,” he said.
It was inevitable that their friendship had changed, Daisy thought, watching him as he continued to stack logs on the barrow, from those days when he’d been eager to see her, turning up at the house most evenings to see what she was doing and spend time with her. It was inevitable, she supposed, that he’d prefer to spend his evenings at a public house. It was what young men like Stephen did, her mother had told her. But Daisy missed his company. Missed their friendship.
“Are you going to the pub?” Daisy asked, adopting his terminology.
“Not sure. Might be,” he said, without looking up.
Daisy often wondered what went on there—apart from drinking. She’d have liked to be asked, be invited, and be allowed to go. The only time she had been to the local public house was last Boxing Day, when the hunt had met there and she and Iris had stood about with their parents holding glasses of punch, then watched the horses and hounds set off in search of some poor fox. She had told Iris then that she thought it all very uncivilized and that she’d not go again. But she’d meant to the hunt, not to the place.
“Well, if you change your mind . . . ,” she said.
Then Mr. Blundell opened the back door and asked Stephen if the logs were ready, and Daisy turned and went inside.
She walked down the passageway to the kitchen, said hello to Mrs. Jessop and to Nancy and Hilda, and went up to her room. She threw off her coat, lay down on her bed and thought once more about Mrs. Christie and what, exactly, had driven her to stage her own disappearance. In truth, Daisy still couldn’t believe it had been a publicity stunt. It seemed so drastic, so desperate. It had been a cry for help, Daisy thought, sitting up. And no different from all those times she had run away to the summerhouse; for she had, she suddenly realized, staged a few disappearances herself.
That evening, the dressing bell sounded at six thirty, the dinner bell at seven twenty-five, but there were only Daisy and her mother at dinner, seated at one end of the long dining table.
“Noonie’s not feeling too grand, is having a tray taken up,” said Mabel, shaking out her white linen napkin. “But I quite like it like this,” she added, smiling. “It’s rather cozy, isn’t it?”
“Yes, rather cozy,” said Daisy.
Mabel peered at the bowl of watery green liquid in front of her, then sniffed it. “Cabbage?”
Daisy shrugged. “Greenery.”
“Holly!” said Mabel. “Holly soup? What an idea,” she added, giggling at her own joke as she picked up her spoon.
She was in a better mood, Daisy thought. Perhaps Howard had telephoned, or, and more likely, her new best friend, Reggie.
“They’ll all be upon us next week,” her mother continued. “But quite a few less than I’d thought . . . I had a letter from Rivinia today. Unfortunately, she took a tumble out hunting last week and has broken her wrist, poor dear. She’s quite devastated not to be able to get south . . . She so loathes being stuck in that drafty pile and having to wear tartan for Hogmanay,” Mabel went on, referring to her cousin who fled the Scottish borders each New Year in favor of the bright lights of the south. “And one of dear Dixie’s reindeers has taken ill, so we shan’t be seeing her, either,” Mabel added, referring to another cousin, an animal lover extraordinaire for whom Christmas was a year-round festival.
“What about Aunt Dosia’s friend Harriett? Is she coming to stay again? She was so much fun last year—with all her mad outfits and her dancing—and she promised she’d be back,” said Daisy.
“No, apparently Hattie has a boyfriend.”
Mabel nodded. “A divorced chap in the Foreign Office. Simon Something-or-other. And, according to Dosia, rather lovely—despite an unusually penetrating manner.”
“And Sophie and Noel?” Daisy asked.
“Saint Moritz. Again,” said Mabel, fluttering her eyes. “Though I do hope they don’t put dear little Freddie and Jessie on that toboggan run again. Not after last year.”
“The Cresta Run,” said Daisy. “Is that why you were tense earlier? Because certain people aren’t going to be here?”
Mabel laughed. “I wasn’t tense. And to be honest, I’m rather relieved not to have quite so many to stay this year. There’ll be more than enough with all of us and Dosia . . . and Reggie, of course.”
“Of course . . . And where is he tonight?” Daisy asked. “I thought he might be dining with us again.”
“He had some military dinner to go to.”
Reggie—Major Reginald Ellison—was a widower and lived at High Pines: a Gothic-style mansion situated a little way down the road to the west of Eden Hall. He’d served out in India for more than two decades, returning to England and early retirement only the previous year. Major Ellison had no children and lived at his “pile”—as he called it—with a young couple he’d brought with him from India who acted as housekeeper and gardener and whatever else he needed. The initial appearance of these two had caused quite a stir in Little Switzerland, particularly the day they boarded the omnibus and sat opposite Mrs. Jessop in nothing more than sheets. But later,Mr. and Mrs. Singh—she, in her exotically colored saris; he, in his silk pancha with shirt, jacket and tie—had become a common enough sight about the locality.
It had been Howard who had established the friendship, quickly inviting the major over to Eden Hall, eager to hear about far-flung parts of the empire. But with Howard up in London each and every week, it had been Mabel who’d developed and cemented the friendship with Major Ellison. He often came to dinner or called in for morning coffee or afternoon tea or for an early evening aperitif after walking his dog on the common. And he had been the most wonderful help to Mabel with the wedding arrangements at the end of last summer, when Lily married Miles: on hand to direct the men putting up the marquee, the deliveries of tables and chairs and crockery; driving Mabel hither and thither, always there to offer calm reassurance. He had taught both Iris and Daisy to drive, sitting with them as they took turns and had a go about the lanes of Little Switzerland. And thus, Major Ellison had become Reggie.
When Lily had had a row with Miles, shortly after returning from their honeymoon in Scotland, and had sent Mabel a telegram to say that she was leaving Miles and would be arriving on the 4:20, it had been Reggie who had gone to collect her; Reggie who had sat with her, talked to her, wiped away her tears and then driven her back to the station in time for the 7:42. When Daisy and Mabel returned from what Mabel described as a “completely pointless and totally exasperating” visit to a dressmaker at Farnham, it was Reggie who’d sat and listened to Daisy as she explained why she did not want another pretty floral summer dress; Reggie who had then gently conveyed this to Mabel. And when Noonie took a turn late one night in November and was found out on the front driveway in her nightgown (on her way to see someone called Samuel, she’d said), Reggie had immediately driven over and been the one—the only one—who was able to get her back indoors.
“It must be strange for Reggie,” said Daisy, “to be back in England after so many years in India, to be cold and shivering again.”
“I think he’s used to it now,” Mabel replied.
“But why are they all coming back?”
“Yes, from the colonies . . . that new family, the ones who’ve only just moved into Westfield House and were in rubber—or was it tea?”
“Their name is Chapman. And it was tea, in Malaya.”
“So the Chapmans from Malaya, the Pritchards from Ceylon and the Williamsons and Reggie from India. Everyone who’s moved here recently seems to have come back from somewhere exotic.”
Mabel shook her head. “I’m not altogether sure why,” she said. “The world’s changing, and I suppose when change is afoot one returns home . . . to stability.”
“Like losing one’s nerve?”
“Yes,” said Mabel. “I suppose it is a bit like losing one’s nerve. Change is hard . . . to adapt to new circumstances, new ways, particularly when one is older or has a family to consider.”
“I don’t intend to get old,” said Daisy, as Nancy appeared and lifted away their plates of barely touched rissoles. She saw the housekeeper shake her head. As the baize door swung shut, she leaned toward her mother and asked, “How old do you suppose Nancy is?”
“She’s two years younger than me. She’s coming up to forty.”
“And she was never married?”
“She was engaged. He was killed in the war.”
Daisy nodded. The war still hung over them all, young and old. Like an ever-present but reticent guest, it stood alone, lingering in a shadowy corner. And how could it not? For so many, it seemed, had been robbed of husbands, children, a future. And yet it was hard to imagine Nancy engaged, with a man, with a family that weren’t the Forbeses, a family of her own. “She looks older than forty,” said Daisy.
“Her hair turned gray prematurely—and very quickly. She aged; she changed.”
“How sad,” said Daisy, trying to imagine.
“His name was John Bradley. He was a farmer. Nancy hardly ever mentions his name now, but she always used to say he was one in a million. And he was, literally; he was one of the one million men killed at the Battle of the Somme . . . She still has her trousseau,” Mabel went on in a whisper, staring at the candle. “An old pine blanket box up in her room, with her unworn wedding dress, her mother’s veil and the ivory silk nightgown I bought for her—for her wedding night.”
“And never worn.”
“No, never worn, never worn on a wedding night . . . John would have inherited the farm by now; she’d have had her own home, own family. I don’t suppose she’ll ever be able to forgive Germany or Kaiser Wilhelm.”
When Nancy reappeared with Mabel’s coffee, Daisy and her mother both sat up and smiled brightly. And as the baize door swung shut once more, Mabel said, “Oh, and I’ve invited Benedict Gifford to join us again this year. The poor man has no one, and I know you enjoyed his company last Christmas and in the summer.”
“Oh yes,” said Daisy. She’d forgotten all about Ben. “I don’t think Iris rates him,” she said after a moment or two. “She called him obsequious.”
“Iris can be rather cruel,” Mabel said, shaking her head. She took a sip from her coffee cup. “You know, I’ve always felt—had an inkling—that you might marry someone older,” she said. “Not Ben Gifford,” she quickly added, “but someone older.”
“Like you and Daddy?”
“Yes . . . yes, sort of like that.”
To have a marriage like her parents’, marry a man not dissimilar to her father—principled, honest and kind—was Daisy’s dream.
It was five days before Christmas and Mrs. Christie’s story had slipped from front-page news to a small insert on page eleven, offering her fans an update on her well-being. Now the newspapers were predicting a white Christmas, and Mrs. Jessop was being difficult.
Mabel had gone to the kitchen with a conciliatory approach, an open mind—she hoped. But when Mrs. Jessop stared back at her across the kitchen table, her arms folded, Mabel quickly realized they had reached an impasse.
“Really . . . I think Lang is an English name,” said Mabel again.
Mrs. Jessop said nothing.
Ever suspicious of foreigners—or anyone new to the area; outsiders, she called them—Mrs. Jessop had said her piece and vowed that she could not buy any meat from the new butcher. She had told Mabel in no uncertain terms that she would prefer to take the number 18 to Farnham than “experiment” with a man she had no knowledge of, and who had—if she could be plain, and after all, that’s what she was, a plain-speaking, plain cook—what she believed could be the trace of a German accent.
“There is no need, no need whatsoever for you to take the bus to Farnham, Mrs. Jessop,” Mabel went on, knowing that reason was hopeless. She had gone there to plead one last time, but the woman was intransigent. “We don’t have an account at any butchers at Farnham, and I’m not sure they’ll make deliveries this far,” Mabel added.
Mrs. Jessop blinked.
“Well, if you feel you must . . .”
The antipathy toward Germany ran deep in some and was understandable, Mabel reminded herself as she left the kitchen. But the suspicion of foreigners that had begun during the war had left a lingering xenophobia. People still spoke about spies and about the likelihood of another war, particularly Mrs. Jessop and Nancy, whose imaginations seemed to know no bounds, Mabel thought, breathing in deeply as she walked toward the hallway.
There was the familiar aroma of lavender and logs; the scent of a house filled with flowers each summer and fires each winter; the smell of candles and dogs, and mud and the country; the fading sweet scent of fruit, and the warm, earthy smells of old leather and beeswax: the lingering fragrance of a quarter of a century.
The tree was newly festooned with baubles and illuminated by fruit-shaped frosted-glass lights: pale violet pears and yellow apples. Mesmerized for a moment, Mabel remembered other Christmases, before the war, before people had gone and everything changed, when the children had been small and the place filled with chaos and laughter—and her mouth curved up at one side.
Clambering on all fours—pretending to be a lion, a wolf, a wildly roaring but forgiving beast that only he and his children understood—Howard had chased his squealing girls around the tree and up the stairs for bath time and then, later, carrying Daisy in his arms, brought them back down, sweet smelling and pink.
The grandfather clock in the hallway struck five.
“I’ve unpacked my snow globe,” said Daisy, standing in the drawing room doorway clutching it in her hand. “I’m listening to Beethoven,” she added, turning away, humming.
Mabel followed her. She watched Daisy place the glass orb on a table by the oriel window, next to the Victorian taxidermy diorama. Mabel hated the stuffed birds, encased in glass, their tiny feet pinned, their lifeless eyes staring out. She wished her mother had sent the thing to the auction house with the others, but Noonie had made a gift of it to Mabel, along with various ornaments and china and once fashionable objets d’art: the term Noonie used for anything of no apparent use or beauty, but perhaps of some value.
Excerpted from "The Snow Globe"
Copyright © 2015 Judith Kinghorn.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for The Snow Globe
"Both a gripping tale of family secrets and a comedy of manners, Kinghorn's novel paints a vivid portrait of love and its perplexing complications. Set against the backdrop of Europe in the years following the Great War, The Snow Globe is a fascinating journey back in time. Historical fiction fans will not want to miss this gem!"—Renee Rosen, author of What the Lady Wants
"An absolutely delicious book...The period is beautifully observed, and we are expertly drawn into a suspenseful blend of tangled relationships and shocking discoveries. Daisy's coming of age in the 'brave new world' of post-war England had me holding my breath. Elegant and evocative to the last word."—Elizabeth Cooke, author of Rutherford Park and The Wild Flowers
Praise for The Memory of Lost Senses
"Lucinda Riley’s readers will enjoy Kinghorn’s manipulation of the story’s timeline, fans of Sarah Jio will adore the novel’s romantic backbone, and historical-fiction readers will appreciate Kinghorn’s eye for authentic period details.”—Booklist
"Beautifully written...the lyrical prose and hints of mystery, betrayal, blackmail, jealousy and regret make for a touching, thought-provoking and compelling read." —Romantic Times, 4 1/2 stars
“Kinghorn’s prose is lovely, lavishly describing both the characters and the setting, which leaves the reader with a strong sense of time and place."—Historical Novel Society
“Exquisite…a page-turning, atmospheric mystery story but with a powerful, all-consuming love affair burning deep at its core...”—Lancaster Evening Post (UK)
"A witty, clever and compelling tale, with a beautiful love story at its heart. I loved it."—Jane Harris, author of The Observations and Gillespie and I
Praise for The Last Summer
“An enchanting story of love and war, and the years beyond.” —Penny Vincenzi, bestselling author of Wicked Pleasures
“A sumptuous, absorbing tale of love in time of war. Judith Kinghorn's novel brilliantly illuminates the experiences of a generation of blighted youth.”—Rachel Hore, bestselling author of A Place of Secrets
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A historical fiction and a chick lit combined to make this book a great girlie read. Daisy Forbes the main character and youngest daughter of the family, is ready for her life to start and not sure if it is her love life or a professional independent life, but just ready for it to start. She has watched her two older sisters take one of the above paths and she isn't sure what she values more, but is ready for the next step in her life. Daisy was a fine character. She wasn't extraordinary and gets caught in the love triangle of sorts, but for some reason I definitely wanted to find out with whom she would end up and how she would get there. Daisy was a likeable character, but I loved how she was surrounded by unlikeable characters. The very large cast of secondary characters were more entertaining then Daisy and I wouldn't mind a spin off story with her sister Iris, she was one to watch!
This was the best book I have read in quite a while. Beautiful scenery with complex characters that you want to know more about. Can't wait for her next book. I have told everyone I know about this one. What a find!
Just like a snow globe is encased in glass then put on display for us all to admire and look at, 18 year old Daisy Forbes is feeling much the same way. Christmas 1926, the elegant Forbes family are enjoying the festive time at their home, Eden Hall. Daisy is the youngest child of Mabel and Howard and has always been a daddy’s girl, but now he has broken her heart. Daisy discovers that he has been living a separate life in London with his lover, who just happens to be spending Christmas with the family. He has destroyed all faith she had in him, and now Stephen, the young man that she deeply loves has announced that he is leaving to begin a new life abroad. Daisy’s life is in turmoil, made harder by the fact that three men are vying for her attention, and her hand in marriage. She does the only thing she knows she can do, she ups and leaves, heading to London. The Snow Globe is a historical family drama set in a time when the country is recovered from the destruction of WWI, and a sense of newness is emerging. The characters have all been carefully thought out, and their stories play out beautifully, flowing naturally with one another. Daisy is a young woman who is just becoming an adult and realising that being a grown up is not easy. Along with her mother, Mabel, these two women make the book exceptionally special. As I was reading along I suddenly realised that the story had become exceptionally visual in my mind, and the images formed were very Downtown Abby-Esq. I had a real sense of satisfaction whilst reading the book as it truly captured my imagination. I haven’t read any of Judith’s earlier work, and I’m not always a fan of historical fiction, but this book just made me want to keep reading, it engaged me with the emotions that the family were feeling and had me eager to see how the story would end. Ms. Kinghorn has a true gift for creating compulsive and page-turning fiction. I will certainly be looking out for more of her work in the future.
I have to admit this is the first book I have read by Judith Kinghorn. So why was I pulled towards this one? Simple I just adore snow globes, they have always seemed magical to me and I used to have quite a collection. If only life was as simple as shaking one and settling it all down again. The Snow Globe in this case was a gift to young Daisy from her father. It became a yearly fixture amid the Christmas decorations. It contained their home Eden Hall so was very personal. As Daisy grows she learns of her fathers’ infidelity, the audacity of the mistress who will attend the Christmas festivities with them. The adoration for her father is shattered. But time moves on and Daisy begins to have romantic notions of her own. She is wooed by different men and she has to decide if any are suitable candidates for her love. This is set c. 1926, a time when women were a delicate breed, the car was making an appearance and servants knew all the gossip. A novel of love, family drama, secrets, coming of age with some history facts involved. The writing flows nicely, I got a bit lost with a few of the characters but once I’d got about half way in it all slots into place. Anyone fond of ‘Downton Abbey’ or ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ will really enjoy this. Does the snow globe have any significance? You will just have to read this book to discover that for yourself. I will have to investigate the author’s other books after savouring this one. My thanks to the author, publisher and netgalley for my copy which I read and reviewed voluntarily.