Monday, April 09, 2012

The House at Tyneford Readalong - Week 1

Today is the first milestone in The House at Tyneford readalong being hosted by Carrie at Books and Movies. I am actually reading the UK/Australian version of the book which is called The Novel in the Viola. I hope that isn't too confusing.

I am going to briefly answer the questions (or as it turns out, not quite so briefly) and then share a video of the author speaking with Richard and Judy after the book was chosen as part of the Richard and Judy bookclub last year (think Oprah's book club but British).

Here are Carrie's questions:

What do you think of the writing?

I read Natasha Solomons first book, Mr Rosenblum's List, in 2010 and it made my list of top reads for that year. I therefore knew that I liked her writing. So far, I haven't been disappointed. Mr Rosenblum's List was also published under the title Mr Rosenblum Dreams in English in the US and other markets.

Once again, I am enjoying the sensuousness of the writing. I felt the coldness of the water as Elise waded into the water at the beach, and the role of food is important as it was in her previous book.

I have previously shared a couple of different excerpts from Mr Rosenblum's list. Click on this link if you are interested in reading them.

Have you learned anything surprising?

I don't know that I have learned anything new as such, but the first part of the book definitely had me remembering my couple of days that I spend in Vienna many years ago. From what I can recall, the centre of Vienna itself was quite modern as a result of the damage done during WWII and then subsequent building, but there were some gems to be found - most notably the Opera House. We stayed in a hotel not too far from Schonnbrunn Palace. The hotel had been converted from an old house (I use the word loosely) and so the rooms were immense, especially considering some of the shoe boxes we stayed in during the tour) with very high ceilings. It was obvious that it was a faded glory and the foyer had a very dated (as in 70's or 80's) feel to it, but the rooms made up for it as did the location. Oh, and we ate our continental breakfasts in what would have been the ballroom originally! Very grand!

In Carrie's post for this week she spoke about the fact that refugees came to England in the late 1930s and found work in menial tasks.This part actually reminded me of the Eva Ibbotson book I read not too long ago, A Countess Below Stairs, which featured Russian refugess who were displaced to the UK, although that was twenty years earlier following the events of the Russian revolution. Another book I read this year which talked about refugees coming to the UK in the late 1930s was Anna Funder's All That I Am, although in that case the refugees weren't coming to work as such.

Also, I should mention that Mr Rosenblum also comes to England during this time and so Solomons has explored this time a little before, but there is a very different feel between that book and this one so far.

What are your first impressions of Elise?

I think that we have been introduced to someone who is conscious of not really fitting in anywhere. Her family loves her, but she doesn't share their passions or talents, and she thinks she looks very different from them, but I think that the time spent away from them is helping her see that she is the same of them. An example of this is when she remembers that her hair is the same colour as her father's hair.

Now, she has come to a new country, a new circumstance where she doesn't really speak the language and she is even more aware of not fitting in.

Do you think Elise will ever see her parents, or her sister, Margot again?

I really think that Elise won't see her parents again, and I think that they know that they won't see her. I do think that Margot and her husband will make it out of Vienna safely, but it will be some time before the two sisters are reunited.

Want to make any predictions?

It is obvious from the blurb and the trailer that this is a love story, so I expect that the next section will see this aspect of the story developing a bit more. I am looking forward to finding out more about the novel in the viola and the role that plays in the story.

I am also looking forward to finding out more about Tyneford after reading the notice that was put on the church door that was mentioned at the very beginning of the book, and is also mentioned briefly in the video below:

On a tangent, when I was watching this video on Youtube I noticed a link where Richard was talking about being featured on Who Do You Think You Are? I love that show, and hadn't seen his episode. I ended up watching the show and thought it was interesting. The one thing I learnt - I am never going to Nova Scotia in January!

In my head I do have a trip to Canada planned, mainly to see Kelly from The Written World. I would fly to New York (because I have always wanted to go there), then travel up the coast through Maine and then into Nova Scotia and I would also head up to Quebec to see another couple of online friends.  The likelihood of that trip ever happening is remote, but it doesn't hurt to dream right? It would however be a Canadian summer trip!

*In theory, I am also participating in the Mistborn readalong that Carl is posting as part of the Once Upon a Time challenge but the book has only just come into the library so I won't be picking it up until tomorrow at the earliest so I am going to be a bit behind posting on that one!


  1. Thank you for answering the questions, Marg - I loved reading your answers! As I was reading, it made me wonder if maybe Elise's parents don't actually have visas to the US lined up, and they only told her that so she would leave for England and be safe.

    I agree about her not fitting in - she is a bit of an oddball in each situation. And the notice on the door had me intrigued, too!

    Your trip to Austria makes me drool with jealousy! It sounds wonderful. And if you ever do make that trip to visit Kelly, and want to come farther west on the North American continent, I'd love to meet you in real life. :)

    Looking forward to starting section two today!

    1. Carrie, the Pacific NW is definitely on my list of places to get to one day!

  2. Great review Marg. I live in Canada and visiting Nova Scotia in January is not on my list either, in the summer I have a great little cottage in mind. I should go while my sister is still able to drive. I too agree with her not fitting in, but I'm not sure of the affair with Kit... I'm thinking Mr. Rivers, the old guy. I also think that refugees are never poor and are always from the upper class, lets face it poor people didn't have the means of escape. Such is, I believe, still the case. My friend from Indian was well up there in the $$$ but coming here, they started from nothing and maybe... This is why we are called the land of opportunity.

    1. I don't know about always upper class, maybe a lot of the time, but not always.

      Just as in the US, Australia has a lot of issues with refugees coming illegally but there are lots of great success stories. Maybe that is why we are called the lucky country!

  3. I just got this one from the library on Friday, so I am hoping that I can catch up with the readalong. Wish me luck!

  4. I have read 1/2 way through & am in love with this novel!
    Just found this site, & am skimming it as I don't want to know anything farther than I am. I loved Downton Abbey, Forgotten Garden, Distant Hours, Wildflower HIll, and others of similar nature. I just do not want this story to end.
    Will try to join the readalong. So wonderful to meet others who are enjoying this novel. Got the book on USA Amazon where it is called 'House at Tyneford.' Must check my library for the other title. Chris from Canada