1945: War widow Peggy is grateful to have inherited Orchard House from her husband’s Aunt Maude; she looks forward to making a fresh start in rural Cambridgeshire with her young son. The moment she sets eyes on the rambling property, however, doubt sets in. From the bricked-up cellar to the scent of violets and rotting fruit, the place seems shrouded by dark mysteries. When Peggy discovers Maude’s teenage diary gathering dust inside a broken desk, she begins to read, searching for answers.
1876: Orphaned Maude is forced to leave London, and her adored brother Frank, to live with a stranger. Everyone—especially Frank—tells her not to trust Miss Greenaway, the enigmatic owner of Orchard House, but Maude can’t help warming to her new guardian. Encouraged by Miss Greenaway to speak her mind, follow her curiosity, and form her own opinions, Maude finds herself discovering who she is for the first time, and learning to love her new home in the orchard.
But when Frank comes for an unexpected visit, the delicate balance of Maude’s life is thrown into disarray. Complicating matters more, Maude witnesses an adult world full of interactions she cannot quite understand with implications beyond her grasp. Her efforts to regain control and right the future as she sees fit result in a violent tragedy, the repercussions of which will haunt Orchard House for the rest of Maude’s life—and beyond. Psychologically gripping and masterfully told, The House in the Orchard explores the blurred lines between truth and manipulation, asking us who we can trust, how to tell guilt from forgiveness, and whether we can ever really separate true love from destruction.
‘With the heart-rending pleasures of McEwan’s Atonement, Elizabeth Brooks’ latest delivers a twisty, old fashioned tale which proves deadly when innocence collides with an antiquated world of manners and class.’
Michelle Hoover, author of The Quickening and Bottomland
‘At turns lush and tangled, with moments of clarity that burst forth from the darkness like shafts of moonlight penetrating a forest canopy, The House in the Orchard represents the finest in gothic fiction. Brooks is a master, enticing the reader forward, one step at a time, but only revealing the path by the light of a candle. Bewitching.’
Erika Robuck, Bestselling author of Sisters of Night and Fog
‘Historically inclined readers will delight in Brooks’ attention to detail as Maude reaches for the cookbooks and thesaurus that would have been present in a Victorian household. But it is Brooks’ exceptional ability to create a wealth of characters who are at once innocent and manipulative, trustworthy and unwholesome, that is most notable.’
‘Love, self-discovery and even tragedy all intermingle in this gorgeous historical novel.’
‘In Elizabeth Brooks’ novel, issues of class, grief, and longing rise up through the floorboards of every page.’
Sloane Crosley, Departures, ‘Best new books to take you from summer to fall’
‘Brooks has written a diverting, highly readable novel with just enough plot twists to hold the reader’s interest to its surprise ending.’
‘The House in the Orchard is a richly-layered gothic novel with all the psychological penetrations that form is so celebrated for.’
Crimereads, 10 novels you should read this September’
‘A twisty read full of complex characters and mystery.’