House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

The cover has curled corners. There is a crease or fold on the cover. The pages show normal wear and tear. Codes or product keys that accompany this product may not be valid. Fast Shipping in a Standard Poly Mailer!
See more
Sold by Goodwill Retail Services, Inc.
[{"displayPrice":"$11.39","priceAmount":11.39,"currencySymbol":"$","integerValue":"11","decimalSeparator":".","fractionalValue":"39","symbolPosition":"left","hasSpace":false,"showFractionalPartIfEmpty":true,"offerListingId":"V1591dLMB%2Bqvht4WkzHodg1EpxEaoHrCk51y7fq9MZ7QiVmD4bXp1g6PF5325VRGU25M8oagBz2YrtRmcJz23uZvz5nNXoOTI1ohatGIYL6Pq9rkcn4RwG5sBSso6uIHA20QebmSspzcWJvVGavT%2BQ%3D%3D","locale":"en-US","buyingOptionType":"NEW"},{"displayPrice":"$3.85","priceAmount":3.85,"currencySymbol":"$","integerValue":"3","decimalSeparator":".","fractionalValue":"85","symbolPosition":"left","hasSpace":false,"showFractionalPartIfEmpty":true,"offerListingId":"EN04y2aKccBzGuyojfkt76%2B5SU4MM1ZQGEKyr8qHKZkk5eCcKqIX42AB73JggQgOL78k4WTrpwCMEsnd4Eof5C0w4dPVasHnuHFz4uNJ57gNpfjq9RFWsQzf0smTcYDd2D8fwV21KQaivHO36M7Mpa7Qy5LR4KF1vaHrdPIwVARlF54xlEPPSzF9h%2FEqtacI","locale":"en-US","buyingOptionType":"USED"}]
$$11.39 () Includes selected options. Includes initial monthly payment and selected options. Details
Price
Subtotal
$$11.39
Subtotal
Initial payment breakdown
Shipping cost, delivery date, and order total (including tax) shown at checkout.
ADD TO LIST
Available at a lower price from other sellers that may not offer free Prime shipping.
SELL ON AMAZON
Share this product with friends
Text Message
WhatsApp
Copy
press and hold to copy
Email
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Loading your book clubs
There was a problem loading your book clubs. Please try again.
Not in a club? Learn more
Join or create book clubs
Choose books together
Track your books
Bring your club to Amazon Book Clubs, start a new book club and invite your friends to join, or find a club that’s right for you for free. Explore Amazon Book Clubs
Inspire a love of reading with Amazon Book Box for Kids
Discover delightful children''s books with Amazon Book Box, a subscription that delivers new books every 1, 2, or 3 months — new Amazon Book Box Prime customers receive 15% off your first box. Sign up now
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Frequently bought together

+
+
Choose items to buy together.
Buy all three: $42.60
$11.39
$16.95
$14.26
Some of these items ship sooner than the others.
Total price:
To see our price, add these items to your cart.

Frequently bought together

by Hannah Rothschild
$11.39
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.00.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
by Hannah Rothschild
$16.95
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.00.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
by Hannah Rothschild
$14.26
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.00.
Only 14 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Book details

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

From the Publisher




Description

Product Description

From the author of The Improbability of Love comes a dazzling novel both satirical and moving, about an eccentric, dysfunctional family of English aristocrats and their crumbling stately home, demonstrating how the lives and hopes of women can be shaped by the ties of family and love.

For more than seven hundred years, the vast, rambling Trelawney Castle in Cornwall--turrets, follies, a room for every day of the year, four miles of corridors and 500,000 acres--was the magnificent and grand "three dimensional calling card" of the earls of Trelawney. By 2008, it is in a complete state of ruin due to the dulled ambition and the financial ineptitude of twenty-four earls, two world wars, the Wall Street crash, and inheritance taxes. Still: the heir to all of it, Kitto, his wife, Jane, their three children, their dog, Kitto''s ancient parents, and his aunt Tuffy Scott, an entomologist who studies fleas, all manage to live there and (barely) keep it going.

Four women dominate the story: Jane; Kitto''s sister, Blaze, who left Trelawney and made a killing in finance in London, the wildly beautiful, seductive, and long-ago banished Anastasia and her daughter, Ayesha. When Anastasia sends a letter announcing that her nineteen-year-old daughter, Ayesha, will be coming to stay, the long-estranged Blaze and Jane must band together to take charge of their new visitor--and save the house of Trelawney. But both Blaze and Jane are about to discover that the house itself is really only a very small part of what keeps the family together.

Review

“The idea of eccentric British aristocrats in a crumbling mansion is at the heart of some of literature’s greatest works . . . . Rothschild’s book is the latest in a long line of novels by the likes of Jane Austen and Evelyn Waugh.”
Adam Rathe, Town & Country (“How one new novel gets British money exactly right”)

“Irresistible . . . . Rothschild’s tale is lively and entertaining.”
--Amanda Craig, The Guardian

"Part comedy of manners, part serious meditation on money and gender roles, House of Trelawney is both deeply thought-provoking and thoroughly fun."
—BookPage

“A real page turner . . . sparklingly acerbic social satire . . . . Funny and absorbing, House of Trelawney is the perfect antidote to a grey, Scottish winter’s day.”
—John Badenhorst, The Courier & Advertiser

“Evelyn Waugh meets the love child of Richard Curtis and the brilliant Joanna Trollope.”
—Geordie Greig, The Daily Mail

“Rothschild is a witty, stylish storyteller and her overall message feels timely.”
—Lucy Atkins, The Sunday Times

“Snappy and sexy.”
—Lionel Barber, Former Editor of The Financial Times

“This canny comedy of manners straddles the worlds of high finance and the crumbling aristocracy, braiding love, revenge and market meltdown . . . generous-hearted, it delights from start to finish.”
—Hephzibah Anderson, The Daily Mail

“Rothschild is a writer of high intelligence . . . . House of Trelawney says a lot about the dangers of dwelling on past entitlement and the importance of unsentimental realism.”
—Kate Saunders, The Times

"Nothing is left out in this madcap . . .  novel, which parodies British aristocracy on one hand and the social-climbing world of new money on the other. There are odd, unlikely romances, a suicide, and babies born out of wedlock . . . Ms. Rothschild is an intelligent writer and an elegant prose stylist. The first female chair of the National Gallery, she describes her characters’ physical characteristics with the eye of someone who’s spent a lifetime looking carefully at paintings . . . Britain, that “sceptered isle,” is a shadow of its former self. But one thing the British haven’t lost is their sense of humor, and Ms. Rothschild provides a large dose of it in this quirky satire.” -- Moira Hodgson, The Wall Street Journal

“A gripping saga about a once grand, now decaying, family in Cornwall whose house is literally falling down around their ears.”
—Lynn Barber, The Telegraph

“Rothschild is a mischievous narrator and this story is pure pleasure from the word go.”
—Stylist Online (Best Books of 2020)

“Rothschild’s engaging tale House of Trelawney cleverly satirizes an unconventional aristocratic clan who have run into money troubles.”
—Martin Chilton, The Independent Online

“This slyly comic novel is a great dissection of class and privilege.”
—Red

“Curl up and lose yourself in this hugely entertaining satire of a deeply dysfunctional family of aristocrats desperate to save their crumbling Cornwall home.”
—i paper

“[Rothschild] paces [her novel] perfectly, laying out the history of the Trelawneys and their castle vividly, and timing the orchestration of characters and events at a brisk tempo . . . when current times seem full of intractable problems and short on answers perhaps a bit of escapism tinged with schadenfreude, seen here by a sharp eye and seasoned with a tart tongue, may be just what’s needed.”
--
Claire Hopley, The Washington Times

“[A] rollicking tale . . . . Jilly Cooper fans (and who isn’t?) will love the unashamedly upmarket settings and posh characters. A romcom to beat the winter blues: funny, sharply-observed and boho-chic glamorous.”
--
Wendy Holden, Scottish Daily Mail

“Rothschild’s style has been compared to comic writers such as Waugh and Mitford, which are apt in terms of both style and milieu, but comparisons can also be made to Austen and Dickens, as she shares their ability to create comic characters and to then put those characters in situations that allows the author to make satirical/social commentary . . . . an intelligent and entertaining romp.”
--
Caroline Percy, The Nerd Daily

About the Author

HANNAH ROTHSCHILD is the author of The Improbability of Love and The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild. She is also a company director and a filmmaker who has made documentary features and series for the BBC and HBO. She writes for The Times, The New York Times, Vogue, Bazaar, and Vanity Fair. She is a vice president of the Hay Literary Festival, a former trustee of the Tate Gallery, and in 2015 became the first woman to chair the trustees of the National Gallery. In 2018, she was made a CBE for services to the arts and to philanthropy. She lives in London with her three daughters.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

I

Trelawney Castle

Wednesday 4th June 2008

Trelawney Castle, home to the same family for eight hundred years, sits on a bluff of land overlooking the South Cornish sea. Since their enno­blement in 1179, the Earls of Trelawney used wealth and stealth to stay on the winning side of history; ruthlessly and unscrupulously switching allegiances or bribing their way to safety and positions of authority. The castle was their three-dimensional calling card, the physical embodi­ment of their wealth and influence. Each Earl added an extension until it was declared the grandest, if not the finest, stately home in the county of Cornwall.

In summer months, until the First World War, it was the custom of the family and guests to take the Trelawney barge from the Trelawney boathouse, through Trelawney land, past Trelawney follies and temples, to Trelawney Cove where they could use the seaside house (Little Tre­lawney Castle) or sail the yacht (the Trelawney). In the winter, the same ilk would hunt with the Trelawney foxhounds or shoot game raised on the Trelawney Estate. At that time, the family were so landed and power­ful that they could travel from Trelawney to Bath, from the south coast to the Bristol Channel, without stepping off their own domain. This swathe of England became known as Trelawneyshire, an area of 500,000 acres including forty miles of coastline. With the advent of the railway, those family members who chose to go as far as London (most refused and who could blame them) would travel from Trelawney Station in a private train stamped inside and out with the Trelawney coat of arms.

By the early nineteenth century, the castle had expanded sufficiently to have a room for each day of the year, eleven staircases and four miles of hallways. After King George III’s favourite mistress became hope­lessly lost in the maze of corridors and nearly died from hypothermia, guests were, thenceforth, given a miniature crested silver casket contain­ing different-coloured confetti to sprinkle on the floor, so as to leave a personal trail to and from their bedrooms.

The Victorian diarist Rudyard Johnson, a regular guest, wrote: “The castle is made of four main blocks, each built a century apart in mark­edly different styles. Part of the amusement of Trelawney is sleeping in an Elizabethan bedroom, breakfasting in a Jacobean hall, taking tea in a Regency conservatory and dancing in a Georgian ballroom. For those who like a morning constitutional, the battlement walk is a perfect 400-yard perambulation.” The respected eighteenth-century architectural historian J. M. Babcock dismissed the castle as “a vomitorium of con­flicting architectural styles, reflecting the whims of wealthy, ill-educated and self-indulgent aristocrats.”

Until the early twentieth century, rooms were lit by candle or oil lamps and warmed by open fires. Hot water was prepared in vast caul­drons on stoves in the basement and carried in buckets to the bathrooms. Even human waste, kept in porcelain dishes mounted in wooden boxes or cupboards, was disposed of by (a servant’s) hand. Eighty-five mem­bers of domestic staff were employed to carry out those tasks, including a butler, housekeeper, kitchen maids, footmen, chars and a clock man; outside there were sixty more, ranging from gardeners and grooms to mole catchers and coachmen, and even a bear and camel keeper. In 1920 the decision was taken to instal central heating, plumbing and electric­ity. It was a Sisyphean task, started but never finished. Only the Geor­gian wing was modernised, providing nine bathrooms for eighty-four bedrooms and a total of eleven radiators.

The castle made its own music: pipes hissed and gurgled; house-parties filled the septic tanks under the cellars; and a constant plop and gurgle underscored every activity. Wide wooden floorboards let out little squeaks and groans as they shrank and expanded in changing tempera­tures. Wind whistled round the crenellations, storms rattled window­panes. The huge boilers in the basement shuddered while the water tanks in the attics bubbled and whooshed. Little wonder that the family thought of their home as a sentient being: in their eyes, Trelawney was far more than bricks and mortar.

The beauty of the interiors paled next to Trelawney’s setting. To the north of the castle were four hundred acres of medieval oak woods, set in deep cushions of moss laced with streams chasing over granite boul­ders. In the heart of the forest there was a perfectly round and deep lake, fed by a waterfall. At different times of the year, the glades were carpeted with flowers—crocuses, snowdrops, bluebells, wild garlic and rare orchids. In these Elysian settings lived native fallow, roe and red deer, thirty types of songbird, thirty-four varieties of butterfly, sixteen different species of moths, as well as foxes, badgers, otters, stoats, wea­sels, mice, voles, moles, slow-worms and snakes.

To the east and west were undulating meadows dotted with sheep and cows and also arable fields. For eight centuries this rich and fer­tile area was the breadbasket of the West Country and provided added income to the family’s coffers. It was the southern perimeter, however—some sixty acres of landscaped garden leading down to the estuary—which guests recalled with awe. Successive generations of Earls and their wives had tamed and reshaped the terrain, creating walks and water­ways, avenues, terraces, sunken gardens, raised beds, topiary, wild-flower meadows, exotic palmeries, carpet bedding and a 24-acre walled kitchen garden. Wending through the pleasure grounds were streams, waterfalls and, to the south, a vast rhododendron and azalea forest surrounded by ancient laurels. Vistas and views were punctuated with Doric temples and triumphal arches. There were secret grottos and fierce fountains that, by an ingenious natural system of displacement, shot jets of water more than fifty feet into the air. The combination of the manicured and the wild, the conflagration of man’s determined hand and nature’s attributes, created an unforgettable experience. Trelawney was, everyone agreed, the most captivating setting in the British Isles.

As the centuries tripped by, the Earls of Trelawney, their senses and ambition dulled by years of pampered living, failed to develop other skills. Of the twenty-four Earls, the last eight had been dissolute and bereft of any business acumen. Their financial ineptitude, along with two world wars, the Wall Street Crash, three divorces and inheritance taxes, had dissipated the family’s fortune. Bit by bit the accoutrements of wealth disappeared. Servants went to war, not to be replaced. Farms were sold along with the London mansion. The private train and barge were left to rust and rot. Wings of the castle were closed up. Little Tre­lawney Castle was sold and became a hotel.

The good paintings and furniture were auctioned off and all that remained were their scars: discoloured squares and rectangles on walls or awkward absences in rooms. The only objects left were those without financial value, testaments to the whims and enthusiasms of generations of Trelawneys—such as the enormous stuffed polar bear in the west entrance hall, its fur and fangs turned yellow by time.

The tapestries in the Great Hall and corridors, formerly a riot of vibrantly coloured woven silks, had faded to monochromic pastels and hung in shreds. Worn-through carpets revealed wooden floorboards. Horsehair stuffing and rusty springs poked out of sofas. Broken chairs lay where last used, wooden corpses in a losing battle against mainte­nance. Red velvet curtains, burnt by sunlight, had turned a uniform grey. Windows were obscured by the march of ivy and bramble on the outer walls. In some places the ceilings had fallen in, exposing floors above. Swathes of wallpaper flapped disconsolately in draughty rooms. The present incumbents chose to avoid setting foot in most of the castle. For them locking doors meant keeping decay at bay. Occasionally a great crash of avalanching plaster could be heard falling like a tree in a faraway wood. Once a child had nearly plummeted through a first-floor landing into the morning room below, but these occurrences were quickly for­gotten, stashed away in the department of unhelpful memories.

Nowhere was the reversal of the family fortunes more evident than in the once-famous gardens: nature had slowly and inexorably taken back her land. The waterways were choked with lily pads; the ponds silted up; the hedges, now unclipped, spread across paths; the care­fully manicured beds had gone to seed; the yew and beech hedges were blowsy; the rhododendron and azalea, fighting each other for light, had grown tall and raggedy. The fountains spluttered. Buddleia ran amok. The kitchen-garden vegetables had bolted years before. The temples and arches were covered with ivies and vines.

Amidst the chaos and decrepitude inside and out, one relatively small patch of garden remained beautifully and obsessively tended, and on this June afternoon of 2008, Jane, the Viscountess Tremayne, daughter-in-law of the 24th Earl of Trelawney, wife of the heir Kitto, worked dili­gently amongst the roses, refusing to admit defeat against the army of encroaching weeds. For her, keeping control of this area of garden was a form of therapy; she found double-digging and deadheading calm­ing. That morning, a seemingly innocuous letter, written on two sheets of airmail onion paper, had been so upsetting that she’d taken the first opportunity to come outside with a trowel and a pair of clippers.

Jane Tremayne was forty-one. Her figure was kept trim by the endless stairs of the castle, by tending the garden, seeing to most of the domestic chores, looking after her ageing parents-in-law and her three children, as well as riding and mucking out the last horse in the stables. With fine brown hair beginning to grey around the temples, Jane had pale skin, eyes nearer the colour of grey than blue and weather-beaten rosy cheeks. Had she bothered to take the slightest interest in her appearance, she might have passed as a handsome woman. As it was, with her badly cut hair (kitchen scissors), faded overalls and rough, unmanicured hands, she looked more like a labourer than most people’s idea of an aristocrat.

The family’s Labrador lay supine by the box hedge, occasionally rais­ing its handsome black head to snap half-heartedly at a passing fly. A trained gun dog, Pooter spent most winter weekends with Jane’s hus­band at someone else’s pheasant shoot (their own had been abandoned in the late 1980s). Though he could not return invitations, Kitto was a valued guest in circles that admired a distinguished title, a first-class shot and a keen drinker. When his master was home, Pooter ignored Jane except at mealtimes. Jane’s three children took much the same line as the Labrador, using their mother as a glorified taxi and meal service. Her elder son Ambrose was in his last year at Harrow but, due to exor­bitant public-school fees, her younger son Toby and daughter Arabella had been sent to the local comprehensive.

The letter, when it arrived after breakfast, had sat glaring at her from the fruit bowl on the kitchen table. Jane tried covering it with bananas, a dishcloth and other post. She knew from the elegant writing and the sender’s address who and where it was from. Some sixth sense told her that it was better left unopened or forgotten. Curiosity won; Jane ripped open the envelope. Seeing the writing was as disturbing as walking through a spider’s web; the invisible silken fronds unnerving, repulsive. Turning the pages over, she saw the script started small but became increasingly large and erratic. At school, its author had always won the Best Presentation Award and most other things. There had been prize days when only one child was called up to the podium to collect everything, from the gym to the maths and the history cup.

Jane sat down, cleared a space on the table and spread the pages out in front of her.

Dear Jane, I have often thought about you, Blaze and Trelawney over the last twenty years. Closing her eyes, Jane could hear Anastasia’s lilting voice, so quiet and conspiratorial that you had to lean in, letting her sweet breath brush your face and ears.

I have been living in a magnificent Indian palace called Balakpur, sev­eral hundred miles north of Delhi, with my husband the Maharaja and eight of his eleven children. I have two children but my own son is the young­est and won’t inherit the title.

Jane thought about her second son Toby, in many ways a more suit­able candidate for the earldom than her firstborn but destined by birth to be the runner-up at Trelawney.

After such a long time, you must be wondering why I’m writing, Anas­tasia continued. Jane, I need your help desperately, even if it’s only for old times’ sake, for sentimentality, for human kindness, for the Three Musketeers. Jane’s heart contracted at the mention of their old nickname.

I am dying. Dengue fever has shut down my organs one after another, like lights failing on a dashboard. My husband died a few months ago. On the day of his death, his palace Balakpur, and all chattels, passed to his eldest son. The new Maharaja has banished me and my daughter Ayesha to a tiny cottage hospital on the outskirts of Calcutta. He has kept my son, Ayesha’s half-brother Sachan; I doubt I will ever see my darling boy again.

Jane tried to summon compassion for her friend and her children, but felt nothing other than a sense of foreboding.

As you know, dear Jane, I have no family, no parents, no siblings. You and Blaze and Trelawney will forever be my home. Ayesha has nowhere to go and I am flinging myself on your mercy. Please take her.

Jane read the last paragraph three times. Was Anastasia asking her and Kitto to take on her child? After twenty years? After all that had happened? Jane laughed out loud. There was no way that the daughter was coming to stay. She and Kitto could hardly afford to feed their own children, let alone anyone else’s. Besides, Jane didn’t believe that Anasta­sia was dying; she probably wanted a holiday from parenthood and who, Jane thought, could blame her.

Now, in the peace and tranquillity of the garden, Jane took out her anger on deadheading roses, including some wild snips at perfectly healthy blooms. Looking at the clipped rose heads around her feet, she decided they were metaphors for lost friendships which, once snipped, couldn’t simply be reattached. Real intimacy was a delicate cloth of shared experiences stitched together by tiny accretions of time, mutual trust and support. It wasn’t something that could be folded, put away and shaken out when the need presented itself. Whatever the three women once enjoyed had lain fallow and untended for so many years that it had shrunk and corroded. At best their friendship was like an old postcard, a tinted seaside scene, imbued only with memory and sen­timentality. She, Anastasia and Blaze would never recapture their ear­lier affinity; their lives and circumstances were too disparate. Whatever Anastasia was implying in her letter, Jane owed her nothing. She also decided not to tell her husband. The less Kitto thought about Anastasia, the more confident Jane felt.

Product information

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Videos

Help others learn more about this product by uploading a video!
Upload video
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who bought this item also bought

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 54.3 out of 5
536 global ratings

Reviews with images

Top reviews from the United States

Grace Notes
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Very disappointing
Reviewed in the United States on April 6, 2020
After reading the first few pages, and several reviews (but not as many as I admittedly should have) describing this book as a satire, it was very disappointing to find it more YA or chick-lit, especially as the plot was initially interesting. Not my cup of tea.
13 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Sydney Williams
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A story of England''s decaying aristocracy told within the collapse of credit markets in 2008-2009
Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2021
Sydney M. Williams Burrowing into Books “House of Trelawney,” Hannah Rothschild January 22, 2021 “The decline and fall of the House of Trelawney would mirror the history of Britain; like the country, Trelawney was a shadow of its... See more
Sydney M. Williams

Burrowing into Books
“House of Trelawney,” Hannah Rothschild
January 22, 2021

“The decline and fall of the House of Trelawney would mirror
the history of Britain; like the country, Trelawney was a
shadow of its former self, a mere elegy and an effigy.”
House of Trelawney, 2020
Hannah Rothschild (1962-)

Aside from my daughter-in-law Beatriz Williams’ novels, and the occasional Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher story, I prefer dead writers of fiction and live writers of non-fiction. Though I avoid current political biographies and autobiographies. While there are excellent writers of fiction today, time is short and there is much classical literature I have missed. I feel like Churchill, so little time and so much to read.

Having read a review of House of Trelawney in the January 2 issue of the Wall Street Journal by Moira Hodgson, I made an exception. Perhaps it was my delight in the review, or the photo of one of England’s “Great Houses,” or maybe because my wife and I had just come off a second (or third?) viewing of “Downtown Abbey,” or even the Virginia Woolf quote above the Journal’s review: “High birth is a form of congenital insanity.” Whatever the reason, I am glad I picked up this eloquent and amusing book.

Primogeniture assured that large estates in England would remain intact, as title passed to the first-born son. Daughters did not count: “The family tradition was to not waste education on girls; their youth was simply a holding pattern before marriage.” Trelawney, depicted as having had at one point four miles of corridors and 500,000 acres, sits on the coast in Cornwall. For 800 years, it had been passed down from Earl to Earl. But the males who inherited the castle became increasingly unfit. Now it was in total disrepair; its only hope – find a billionaire or open it to the public: “Once upon a time the family had seen it as their right to order and punish; now their only hope was to serve and delight.” The older Earl, Enyon, lives in unheated rooms in the castle with his wife, Clarissa. In his youth, we are told, he had been called “tres horney” for his number of sexual conquests. Kitto, his oldest son and current Earl, is dumber and more depraved than his father. He has not only lost what money he had, but also his wife Jane’s inheritance.

In the world Rothschild offers, women are the stronger sex: “Centuries of absolute power had dulled the male brain, whereas women, forced so long to cajole and manipulate, had evolved into far more complex and capable beings.” And in this book, while somewhat dysfunctional, women play the more important role. Jane, wife to Kitto, lives at the castle and does her best to hold it together, while looking after her three children, her in-laws and pursuing an artistic interest in producing prints. She is lonely: “Jane didn’t miss wealth, or youth; what she missed desperately was friendship.” Blaze, sister to Kitto and named for a birthmark on her face, is a math genius. She is unmarried, lonely, but has a successful career in the City, where she works as a portfolio manager for the very rich but despicable Tomlinson Sleet. She wonders: “Was it possible to hate and miss people simultaneously?” Her on-again, off-again, on-again love interest with hedge fund competitor (the one decent male in the story) Joshua Wolfe, weaves its way through the story. Clarissa, mentioned above, lives in the castle amidst opulence of past dreams, but in present day poverty. Tuffy, an odd, unmarried, younger sister of Lord Enyon, is an entomologist who wins the 2009 Caldecott prize for biology. The beautiful and disruptive Ayesha, teenage daughter of Anastasia who two decades earlier had been good friends of Jane and Blaze, appears from India, after the death of her mother. She flits through the pages like a beautiful butterfly.

There are many more characters. To cite a few: Tony Scott, younger brother to the old Earl, is now an aging, unmarried art dealer who lives in a London “bed-sit.” He and his niece Blaze meet for hot chocolate on September 1, 2008: “The two sat in silence for a few minutes, one imagining opportunities, the other foreseeing disaster.” We attend the “coming of age” party for Ambrose, the oldest son of Kitto and Jane, a youth even more callow and incompetent than his father or grandfather. We spend time with Arabella, younger sister of Ambrose, who develops an interest in entomology from her Great Aunt Tuffy.

The dateline for the story is early June 2008 to the end of May 2009, a time when the credit crisis almost brought down the world’s financial system. That, along with England’s antiquated class system provide backdrops to the story, which takes place (mostly) in Cornwall and London. We read of the destruction wrought by banks and their government enablers, of victimizers and victims, of newly created products, like Mortgage-Backed Securities and Credit Default Swaps. And we read of a dying aristocracy: “The dead only leave the room; they remain firmly in our lives,” says Joshua Wolfe to Blaze.

Hannah Rothschild is the eldest child of Baron Jacob Rothschild. Educated at Oxford, she served as a trustee for the Tate Gallery and chair of trustees for the National Gallery. Her art knowledge is displayed in the characters of Jane and Tony Scott. Rothschild is noted as a comic writer, and this book adds to her reputation. But it is also a tale about the risks of adhering to a past gone by, of dangers that lurk in financial markets, and of the importance of love, the value of families and friends, and why we must keep perspective in our lives.

By the end of 2008, the worst of the credit crisis was behind us, though its effects lingered, and still do. By the end of this story, the troubles of Trelawney are being addressed, but the reader knows consequences will remain. The twists and turns of the story leave one smiling…but wondering: what next happens to Ayesha?
2 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
gammyjill
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great family saga…
Reviewed in the United States on August 17, 2021
British author Hannah Rothschild’s latest novel is big, brawling story of an English family, the Trelawneys, and their 800 year old castle in Cornwall. The times are 2008 to 2010, and the world is caught up in the financial crisis that led to a deep recession. Several... See more
British author Hannah Rothschild’s latest novel is big, brawling story of an English family, the Trelawneys, and their 800 year old castle in Cornwall. The times are 2008 to 2010, and the world is caught up in the financial crisis that led to a deep recession. Several members of the family are involved in financial jobs and their futures are in trouble, along with many others in the UK and the US.

The title of the book, “The House of Trelawney”, is actually a double reference to the book’s subject. Because so much of the book is about actually saving the old pile from time and the fates, as well as the plight of the family trying to save it, the shorthand of the title gives both meanings their due.

Rothschild does an excellent job inventing her characters and giving them interesting back stories. Her characters may in some ways be caricatures of the British upper class, many who have fallen onto bad times because of hefty inheritance taxes and the dimming world economy, but all are interesting to read about.

There’s not a great deal of plot; the book is much more of a character study of the family as they try to deal with modernity. It’s a great, rollicking book and great fun to settle in with.
One person found this helpful
Helpful
Report
go ask Alice
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The disappearing English ruling class satire
Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2020
Book started out well. There are keen observations of the ruling class of old and their eventual fall from prominence versus the ruling class now. In the old days nobility provided a lot of jobs and were usually the areas main source of jobs. Today the ruling class are... See more
Book started out well. There are keen observations of the ruling class of old and their eventual fall from prominence versus the ruling class now. In the old days nobility provided a lot of jobs and were usually the areas main source of jobs. Today the ruling class are much more remote and often times don''t even employ many people, instead a lot of them are just feasting on the carcasses of others. There are some interesting insights, and I thought the characters were fairly well developed. My disappointment was in the end, it seemed very trite and unreal. So in the end it became Chick-Lit which is okay but I was a bit disappointed.
One person found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Gustas Mavroudis
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Extraordinary Novel
Reviewed in the United States on March 7, 2021
I enjoy The House of Trelawney on several different levels. It is well written and the continuous flow of imagery weaves well with the story line. This is the artistic level which reminds me of Vladimir Nabokov. On another level House of Trelawney is a great companion novel... See more
I enjoy The House of Trelawney on several different levels. It is well written and the continuous flow of imagery weaves well with the story line. This is the artistic level which reminds me of Vladimir Nabokov. On another level House of Trelawney is a great companion novel comfortable to read with a subtle hint of humor in the irony present. A wonderful book to read with interesting characters present in the story. I also enjoy the subtle use of expressions such as the name of the employer of Blaze, my favorite character, Kerkyra Capital. Kerkyra is Greek for the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu which has historic ties with the U.K. as, for example, it is the birthplace of Prince Phillip.
One person found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Bluebell
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Entertaining, witty, bittersweet and makes you want more
Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2020
This was a very entertaining novel, perfect for these Covid times. It kept my interest through the whole Story. The characters were believable and endearing and I was sad when it ended. I’ll read more by Hannah Rothschild and am grateful for any escape from these dreadful... See more
This was a very entertaining novel, perfect for these Covid times. It kept my interest through the whole Story. The characters were believable and endearing and I was sad when it ended. I’ll read more by Hannah Rothschild and am grateful for any escape from these dreadful pandemic days, so to find a pleasurable escape is so much the better. If you want a good British Isles novel, this won’t let you down.
2 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Coffeebrewer
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Aristocracy
Reviewed in the United States on January 27, 2021
A long and tortuous examination of people holding on to titles that don''t mean anything in these modern days. From the old Clarissa to the youngest generation, it shows the disintegration of a lifestyle long gone. Most demonstrated in the actual condition of the house... See more
A long and tortuous examination of people holding on to titles that don''t mean anything in these modern days. From the old Clarissa to the youngest generation, it shows the disintegration of a lifestyle long gone. Most demonstrated in the actual condition of the house after many years of neglect and lack of finances to support that lifestyle long forgotten. I thought it was a bit long in the tooth by the end of the story. The climax happens about two thirds through the book. After that, the wind up is interesting and has some humor, but also, a piece alluding to death that symbolizes the final end to the Trelawney line.
Helpful
Report
Leslie by the sea
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great book
Reviewed in the United States on May 17, 2020
I really enjoyed this book. I started it the night it arrived and finished it the next day. Fun read about Cornwall, a huge old dilapidated castle and its aristocratic family, both on their way down, and some unexpected twists and turns.
3 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report

Top reviews from other countries

Sara
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Cornish Journey
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 8, 2020
I admit I probably wouldn''t have bought this book if it wasn''t for the UK beautiful cover, and I am glad I read it. It''s the story of the falling of an aristocratic (and a bit disfunctional) Cornish family that''s been very powerful since medieval times. But now (the time...See more
I admit I probably wouldn''t have bought this book if it wasn''t for the UK beautiful cover, and I am glad I read it. It''s the story of the falling of an aristocratic (and a bit disfunctional) Cornish family that''s been very powerful since medieval times. But now (the time period is 2008, during the credit crunch) the castle is falling apart, they lost all their money and their relationships are weak and cold. I loved how Rothschild depicted the places and the characters, some of them cannot let go of the past because they cannot even conceive the status quo has completely changed, some others are more realistic but fail to be true to themselves when it comes to personal relationships. There is revenge, disappointment, love, forgiveness, and a glance into a world that doesn''t exist anymore, but it''s nevertheless fascinating (that''s why all the UK National Trust''s houses and castles are always full of visitors). I really like to imagine Trelawney, the colours, the smell, the furniture, both when it was splendid and when it was falling. I will definitely read more by Rothschild.
14 people found this helpful
Report
SusannahB
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Nowhere Near as Good as I''d Expected - Sadly
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 4, 2021
A friend of mine recommended this author to me (although the book she''d recommended was Ms Rothchild''s previous novel ''The Improbability of Love'') so when I saw this I decided to buy it. Well, I have to say I was rather disappointed. ''House of Trelawny'' tells the story of...See more
A friend of mine recommended this author to me (although the book she''d recommended was Ms Rothchild''s previous novel ''The Improbability of Love'') so when I saw this I decided to buy it. Well, I have to say I was rather disappointed. ''House of Trelawny'' tells the story of the Trelawny family - and what a dysfunctional lot these people are - however, this family is not only a dysfunctional one but, on the whole, a deeply unlikeable one. Stereotypes abound in this tale and it may be that the author intended her characters to be both stereotypical and unsympathetic, but I wouldn''t have thought Ms Rothschild intended her story to be a rather predictable and unconvincing one, and I have to say that I found this novel to be nowhere near as good as I''d expected it to be - which is a shame. It is true that there were some aspects to the story that kept me reading (I don''t like to give up on a book that I''ve paid good money for) but, on the whole, this was a rather forgettable novel about the antics of family whose history may have been illustrious, but whose future was very perilous, and about whom I have to say I cared very little. In fact having read this a few weeks ago, I''m finding it quite difficult to remember very much about it, other than I didn''t really enjoy it. There''s a fair amount of four and five star reviews for this book on Amazon, so I can see that I''m in the minority here, but that''s okay, I''m glad others have enjoyed the novel and I''m happy to pass this book on to someone who, hopefully, will enjoy it more than I did. 2 Stars.
5 people found this helpful
Report
Judith Jesp
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant satire of the English upper classes
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 16, 2020
Trelawney House has been in the family for 700 years. It’s unthinkable that they could ever live anywhere else. Unfortunately, like a lot of our great country houses, additions to the original building have made it uninhabitable by a normal family and subtractions to the...See more
Trelawney House has been in the family for 700 years. It’s unthinkable that they could ever live anywhere else. Unfortunately, like a lot of our great country houses, additions to the original building have made it uninhabitable by a normal family and subtractions to the family fortune have meant the only way to make it habitable is to find a huge sum of money. Kitto, heir to the family pile, thinks he’s the one to do this by dabbling in finance, while his sister Blaze who is a brilliant financier has been banished from the house aged 18 following the family tradition. Meanwhile Jane, Kitty’s long suffering wife is doing all of the work until an old friend writes to them all asking them to look after her daughter as she’s dying. This daughter Anastasia will turn their lives upside down and help them discover the important things in life. Lovely blend of satire, comedy and romance.
5 people found this helpful
Report
mamo
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Such a good laugh!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 9, 2020
This book is everything it is s''posed to be. It made me laugh, kept my interest and reminded me of places I''ve visited and people I''ve met. There are some hidden truths in there too about life in general. I recognised the chosen cornish name as having popped up in...See more
This book is everything it is s''posed to be. It made me laugh, kept my interest and reminded me of places I''ve visited and people I''ve met. There are some hidden truths in there too about life in general. I recognised the chosen cornish name as having popped up in "Moonfleet" a book I read years ago. I also thought I recognised one of the authors relations as a level headed scientific type who was into fleas. Somehow having the beautiful Cornwall as a back drop was very appropriate. All you need to do is put your feet up, relax and enjoy.
6 people found this helpful
Report
Tone the Cone
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A book I would have missed which would have been a real shame.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 29, 2020
A book club choice for me, just as well as this book would have been below my radar of ones to try and that would have been a shame! Thats the great thing about book clubs, sometimes broadens your horizons on book choices. A great read all about succession for the elite and...See more
A book club choice for me, just as well as this book would have been below my radar of ones to try and that would have been a shame! Thats the great thing about book clubs, sometimes broadens your horizons on book choices. A great read all about succession for the elite and how it can all go so wrong nowadays. Told during the years of the Banks melting down in the background. Great characters, with some ready made roles for some character actors should it ever make it to the screen. One of my favourite lines in the book " A little Tony goes a long way!" I will be using this a few times for sure!
4 people found this helpful
Report
See all reviews
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who viewed this item also viewed

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Explore similar books

Tags that will help you discover similar books. 8 tags
Results for: 
Where do clickable book tags come from?




Description

Product Description

From the author of The Improbability of Love comes a dazzling novel both satirical and moving, about an eccentric, dysfunctional family of English aristocrats and their crumbling stately home, demonstrating how the lives and hopes of women can be shaped by the ties of family and love.

For more than seven hundred years, the vast, rambling Trelawney Castle in Cornwall--turrets, follies, a room for every day of the year, four miles of corridors and 500,000 acres--was the magnificent and grand "three dimensional calling card" of the earls of Trelawney. By 2008, it is in a complete state of ruin due to the dulled ambition and the financial ineptitude of twenty-four earls, two world wars, the Wall Street crash, and inheritance taxes. Still: the heir to all of it, Kitto, his wife, Jane, their three children, their dog, Kitto''s ancient parents, and his aunt Tuffy Scott, an entomologist who studies fleas, all manage to live there and (barely) keep it going.

Four women dominate the story: Jane; Kitto''s sister, Blaze, who left Trelawney and made a killing in finance in London, the wildly beautiful, seductive, and long-ago banished Anastasia and her daughter, Ayesha. When Anastasia sends a letter announcing that her nineteen-year-old daughter, Ayesha, will be coming to stay, the long-estranged Blaze and Jane must band together to take charge of their new visitor--and save the house of Trelawney. But both Blaze and Jane are about to discover that the house itself is really only a very small part of what keeps the family together.

Review

“The idea of eccentric British aristocrats in a crumbling mansion is at the heart of some of literature’s greatest works . . . . Rothschild’s book is the latest in a long line of novels by the likes of Jane Austen and Evelyn Waugh.”
Adam Rathe, Town & Country (“How one new novel gets British money exactly right”)

“Irresistible . . . . Rothschild’s tale is lively and entertaining.”
--Amanda Craig, The Guardian

"Part comedy of manners, part serious meditation on money and gender roles, House of Trelawney is both deeply thought-provoking and thoroughly fun."
—BookPage

“A real page turner . . . sparklingly acerbic social satire . . . . Funny and absorbing, House of Trelawney is the perfect antidote to a grey, Scottish winter’s day.”
—John Badenhorst, The Courier & Advertiser

“Evelyn Waugh meets the love child of Richard Curtis and the brilliant Joanna Trollope.”
—Geordie Greig, The Daily Mail

“Rothschild is a witty, stylish storyteller and her overall message feels timely.”
—Lucy Atkins, The Sunday Times

“Snappy and sexy.”
—Lionel Barber, Former Editor of The Financial Times

“This canny comedy of manners straddles the worlds of high finance and the crumbling aristocracy, braiding love, revenge and market meltdown . . . generous-hearted, it delights from start to finish.”
—Hephzibah Anderson, The Daily Mail

“Rothschild is a writer of high intelligence . . . . House of Trelawney says a lot about the dangers of dwelling on past entitlement and the importance of unsentimental realism.”
—Kate Saunders, The Times

"Nothing is left out in this madcap . . .  novel, which parodies British aristocracy on one hand and the social-climbing world of new money on the other. There are odd, unlikely romances, a suicide, and babies born out of wedlock . . . Ms. Rothschild is an intelligent writer and an elegant prose stylist. The first female chair of the National Gallery, she describes her characters’ physical characteristics with the eye of someone who’s spent a lifetime looking carefully at paintings . . . Britain, that “sceptered isle,” is a shadow of its former self. But one thing the British haven’t lost is their sense of humor, and Ms. Rothschild provides a large dose of it in this quirky satire.” -- Moira Hodgson, The Wall Street Journal

“A gripping saga about a once grand, now decaying, family in Cornwall whose house is literally falling down around their ears.”
—Lynn Barber, The Telegraph

“Rothschild is a mischievous narrator and this story is pure pleasure from the word go.”
—Stylist Online (Best Books of 2020)

“Rothschild’s engaging tale House of Trelawney cleverly satirizes an unconventional aristocratic clan who have run into money troubles.”
—Martin Chilton, The Independent Online

“This slyly comic novel is a great dissection of class and privilege.”
—Red

“Curl up and lose yourself in this hugely entertaining satire of a deeply dysfunctional family of aristocrats desperate to save their crumbling Cornwall home.”
—i paper

“[Rothschild] paces [her novel] perfectly, laying out the history of the Trelawneys and their castle vividly, and timing the orchestration of characters and events at a brisk tempo . . . when current times seem full of intractable problems and short on answers perhaps a bit of escapism tinged with schadenfreude, seen here by a sharp eye and seasoned with a tart tongue, may be just what’s needed.”
--
Claire Hopley, The Washington Times

“[A] rollicking tale . . . . Jilly Cooper fans (and who isn’t?) will love the unashamedly upmarket settings and posh characters. A romcom to beat the winter blues: funny, sharply-observed and boho-chic glamorous.”
--
Wendy Holden, Scottish Daily Mail

“Rothschild’s style has been compared to comic writers such as Waugh and Mitford, which are apt in terms of both style and milieu, but comparisons can also be made to Austen and Dickens, as she shares their ability to create comic characters and to then put those characters in situations that allows the author to make satirical/social commentary . . . . an intelligent and entertaining romp.”
--
Caroline Percy, The Nerd Daily

About the Author

HANNAH ROTHSCHILD is the author of The Improbability of Love and The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild. She is also a company director and a filmmaker who has made documentary features and series for the BBC and HBO. She writes for The Times, The New York Times, Vogue, Bazaar, and Vanity Fair. She is a vice president of the Hay Literary Festival, a former trustee of the Tate Gallery, and in 2015 became the first woman to chair the trustees of the National Gallery. In 2018, she was made a CBE for services to the arts and to philanthropy. She lives in London with her three daughters.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

I

Trelawney Castle

Wednesday 4th June 2008

Trelawney Castle, home to the same family for eight hundred years, sits on a bluff of land overlooking the South Cornish sea. Since their enno­blement in 1179, the Earls of Trelawney used wealth and stealth to stay on the winning side of history; ruthlessly and unscrupulously switching allegiances or bribing their way to safety and positions of authority. The castle was their three-dimensional calling card, the physical embodi­ment of their wealth and influence. Each Earl added an extension until it was declared the grandest, if not the finest, stately home in the county of Cornwall.

In summer months, until the First World War, it was the custom of the family and guests to take the Trelawney barge from the Trelawney boathouse, through Trelawney land, past Trelawney follies and temples, to Trelawney Cove where they could use the seaside house (Little Tre­lawney Castle) or sail the yacht (the Trelawney). In the winter, the same ilk would hunt with the Trelawney foxhounds or shoot game raised on the Trelawney Estate. At that time, the family were so landed and power­ful that they could travel from Trelawney to Bath, from the south coast to the Bristol Channel, without stepping off their own domain. This swathe of England became known as Trelawneyshire, an area of 500,000 acres including forty miles of coastline. With the advent of the railway, those family members who chose to go as far as London (most refused and who could blame them) would travel from Trelawney Station in a private train stamped inside and out with the Trelawney coat of arms.

By the early nineteenth century, the castle had expanded sufficiently to have a room for each day of the year, eleven staircases and four miles of hallways. After King George III’s favourite mistress became hope­lessly lost in the maze of corridors and nearly died from hypothermia, guests were, thenceforth, given a miniature crested silver casket contain­ing different-coloured confetti to sprinkle on the floor, so as to leave a personal trail to and from their bedrooms.

The Victorian diarist Rudyard Johnson, a regular guest, wrote: “The castle is made of four main blocks, each built a century apart in mark­edly different styles. Part of the amusement of Trelawney is sleeping in an Elizabethan bedroom, breakfasting in a Jacobean hall, taking tea in a Regency conservatory and dancing in a Georgian ballroom. For those who like a morning constitutional, the battlement walk is a perfect 400-yard perambulation.” The respected eighteenth-century architectural historian J. M. Babcock dismissed the castle as “a vomitorium of con­flicting architectural styles, reflecting the whims of wealthy, ill-educated and self-indulgent aristocrats.”

Until the early twentieth century, rooms were lit by candle or oil lamps and warmed by open fires. Hot water was prepared in vast caul­drons on stoves in the basement and carried in buckets to the bathrooms. Even human waste, kept in porcelain dishes mounted in wooden boxes or cupboards, was disposed of by (a servant’s) hand. Eighty-five mem­bers of domestic staff were employed to carry out those tasks, including a butler, housekeeper, kitchen maids, footmen, chars and a clock man; outside there were sixty more, ranging from gardeners and grooms to mole catchers and coachmen, and even a bear and camel keeper. In 1920 the decision was taken to instal central heating, plumbing and electric­ity. It was a Sisyphean task, started but never finished. Only the Geor­gian wing was modernised, providing nine bathrooms for eighty-four bedrooms and a total of eleven radiators.

The castle made its own music: pipes hissed and gurgled; house-parties filled the septic tanks under the cellars; and a constant plop and gurgle underscored every activity. Wide wooden floorboards let out little squeaks and groans as they shrank and expanded in changing tempera­tures. Wind whistled round the crenellations, storms rattled window­panes. The huge boilers in the basement shuddered while the water tanks in the attics bubbled and whooshed. Little wonder that the family thought of their home as a sentient being: in their eyes, Trelawney was far more than bricks and mortar.

The beauty of the interiors paled next to Trelawney’s setting. To the north of the castle were four hundred acres of medieval oak woods, set in deep cushions of moss laced with streams chasing over granite boul­ders. In the heart of the forest there was a perfectly round and deep lake, fed by a waterfall. At different times of the year, the glades were carpeted with flowers—crocuses, snowdrops, bluebells, wild garlic and rare orchids. In these Elysian settings lived native fallow, roe and red deer, thirty types of songbird, thirty-four varieties of butterfly, sixteen different species of moths, as well as foxes, badgers, otters, stoats, wea­sels, mice, voles, moles, slow-worms and snakes.

To the east and west were undulating meadows dotted with sheep and cows and also arable fields. For eight centuries this rich and fer­tile area was the breadbasket of the West Country and provided added income to the family’s coffers. It was the southern perimeter, however—some sixty acres of landscaped garden leading down to the estuary—which guests recalled with awe. Successive generations of Earls and their wives had tamed and reshaped the terrain, creating walks and water­ways, avenues, terraces, sunken gardens, raised beds, topiary, wild-flower meadows, exotic palmeries, carpet bedding and a 24-acre walled kitchen garden. Wending through the pleasure grounds were streams, waterfalls and, to the south, a vast rhododendron and azalea forest surrounded by ancient laurels. Vistas and views were punctuated with Doric temples and triumphal arches. There were secret grottos and fierce fountains that, by an ingenious natural system of displacement, shot jets of water more than fifty feet into the air. The combination of the manicured and the wild, the conflagration of man’s determined hand and nature’s attributes, created an unforgettable experience. Trelawney was, everyone agreed, the most captivating setting in the British Isles.

As the centuries tripped by, the Earls of Trelawney, their senses and ambition dulled by years of pampered living, failed to develop other skills. Of the twenty-four Earls, the last eight had been dissolute and bereft of any business acumen. Their financial ineptitude, along with two world wars, the Wall Street Crash, three divorces and inheritance taxes, had dissipated the family’s fortune. Bit by bit the accoutrements of wealth disappeared. Servants went to war, not to be replaced. Farms were sold along with the London mansion. The private train and barge were left to rust and rot. Wings of the castle were closed up. Little Tre­lawney Castle was sold and became a hotel.

The good paintings and furniture were auctioned off and all that remained were their scars: discoloured squares and rectangles on walls or awkward absences in rooms. The only objects left were those without financial value, testaments to the whims and enthusiasms of generations of Trelawneys—such as the enormous stuffed polar bear in the west entrance hall, its fur and fangs turned yellow by time.

The tapestries in the Great Hall and corridors, formerly a riot of vibrantly coloured woven silks, had faded to monochromic pastels and hung in shreds. Worn-through carpets revealed wooden floorboards. Horsehair stuffing and rusty springs poked out of sofas. Broken chairs lay where last used, wooden corpses in a losing battle against mainte­nance. Red velvet curtains, burnt by sunlight, had turned a uniform grey. Windows were obscured by the march of ivy and bramble on the outer walls. In some places the ceilings had fallen in, exposing floors above. Swathes of wallpaper flapped disconsolately in draughty rooms. The present incumbents chose to avoid setting foot in most of the castle. For them locking doors meant keeping decay at bay. Occasionally a great crash of avalanching plaster could be heard falling like a tree in a faraway wood. Once a child had nearly plummeted through a first-floor landing into the morning room below, but these occurrences were quickly for­gotten, stashed away in the department of unhelpful memories.

Nowhere was the reversal of the family fortunes more evident than in the once-famous gardens: nature had slowly and inexorably taken back her land. The waterways were choked with lily pads; the ponds silted up; the hedges, now unclipped, spread across paths; the care­fully manicured beds had gone to seed; the yew and beech hedges were blowsy; the rhododendron and azalea, fighting each other for light, had grown tall and raggedy. The fountains spluttered. Buddleia ran amok. The kitchen-garden vegetables had bolted years before. The temples and arches were covered with ivies and vines.

Amidst the chaos and decrepitude inside and out, one relatively small patch of garden remained beautifully and obsessively tended, and on this June afternoon of 2008, Jane, the Viscountess Tremayne, daughter-in-law of the 24th Earl of Trelawney, wife of the heir Kitto, worked dili­gently amongst the roses, refusing to admit defeat against the army of encroaching weeds. For her, keeping control of this area of garden was a form of therapy; she found double-digging and deadheading calm­ing. That morning, a seemingly innocuous letter, written on two sheets of airmail onion paper, had been so upsetting that she’d taken the first opportunity to come outside with a trowel and a pair of clippers.

Jane Tremayne was forty-one. Her figure was kept trim by the endless stairs of the castle, by tending the garden, seeing to most of the domestic chores, looking after her ageing parents-in-law and her three children, as well as riding and mucking out the last horse in the stables. With fine brown hair beginning to grey around the temples, Jane had pale skin, eyes nearer the colour of grey than blue and weather-beaten rosy cheeks. Had she bothered to take the slightest interest in her appearance, she might have passed as a handsome woman. As it was, with her badly cut hair (kitchen scissors), faded overalls and rough, unmanicured hands, she looked more like a labourer than most people’s idea of an aristocrat.

The family’s Labrador lay supine by the box hedge, occasionally rais­ing its handsome black head to snap half-heartedly at a passing fly. A trained gun dog, Pooter spent most winter weekends with Jane’s hus­band at someone else’s pheasant shoot (their own had been abandoned in the late 1980s). Though he could not return invitations, Kitto was a valued guest in circles that admired a distinguished title, a first-class shot and a keen drinker. When his master was home, Pooter ignored Jane except at mealtimes. Jane’s three children took much the same line as the Labrador, using their mother as a glorified taxi and meal service. Her elder son Ambrose was in his last year at Harrow but, due to exor­bitant public-school fees, her younger son Toby and daughter Arabella had been sent to the local comprehensive.

The letter, when it arrived after breakfast, had sat glaring at her from the fruit bowl on the kitchen table. Jane tried covering it with bananas, a dishcloth and other post. She knew from the elegant writing and the sender’s address who and where it was from. Some sixth sense told her that it was better left unopened or forgotten. Curiosity won; Jane ripped open the envelope. Seeing the writing was as disturbing as walking through a spider’s web; the invisible silken fronds unnerving, repulsive. Turning the pages over, she saw the script started small but became increasingly large and erratic. At school, its author had always won the Best Presentation Award and most other things. There had been prize days when only one child was called up to the podium to collect everything, from the gym to the maths and the history cup.

Jane sat down, cleared a space on the table and spread the pages out in front of her.

Dear Jane, I have often thought about you, Blaze and Trelawney over the last twenty years. Closing her eyes, Jane could hear Anastasia’s lilting voice, so quiet and conspiratorial that you had to lean in, letting her sweet breath brush your face and ears.

I have been living in a magnificent Indian palace called Balakpur, sev­eral hundred miles north of Delhi, with my husband the Maharaja and eight of his eleven children. I have two children but my own son is the young­est and won’t inherit the title.

Jane thought about her second son Toby, in many ways a more suit­able candidate for the earldom than her firstborn but destined by birth to be the runner-up at Trelawney.

After such a long time, you must be wondering why I’m writing, Anas­tasia continued. Jane, I need your help desperately, even if it’s only for old times’ sake, for sentimentality, for human kindness, for the Three Musketeers. Jane’s heart contracted at the mention of their old nickname.

I am dying. Dengue fever has shut down my organs one after another, like lights failing on a dashboard. My husband died a few months ago. On the day of his death, his palace Balakpur, and all chattels, passed to his eldest son. The new Maharaja has banished me and my daughter Ayesha to a tiny cottage hospital on the outskirts of Calcutta. He has kept my son, Ayesha’s half-brother Sachan; I doubt I will ever see my darling boy again.

Jane tried to summon compassion for her friend and her children, but felt nothing other than a sense of foreboding.

As you know, dear Jane, I have no family, no parents, no siblings. You and Blaze and Trelawney will forever be my home. Ayesha has nowhere to go and I am flinging myself on your mercy. Please take her.

Jane read the last paragraph three times. Was Anastasia asking her and Kitto to take on her child? After twenty years? After all that had happened? Jane laughed out loud. There was no way that the daughter was coming to stay. She and Kitto could hardly afford to feed their own children, let alone anyone else’s. Besides, Jane didn’t believe that Anasta­sia was dying; she probably wanted a holiday from parenthood and who, Jane thought, could blame her.

Now, in the peace and tranquillity of the garden, Jane took out her anger on deadheading roses, including some wild snips at perfectly healthy blooms. Looking at the clipped rose heads around her feet, she decided they were metaphors for lost friendships which, once snipped, couldn’t simply be reattached. Real intimacy was a delicate cloth of shared experiences stitched together by tiny accretions of time, mutual trust and support. It wasn’t something that could be folded, put away and shaken out when the need presented itself. Whatever the three women once enjoyed had lain fallow and untended for so many years that it had shrunk and corroded. At best their friendship was like an old postcard, a tinted seaside scene, imbued only with memory and sen­timentality. She, Anastasia and Blaze would never recapture their ear­lier affinity; their lives and circumstances were too disparate. Whatever Anastasia was implying in her letter, Jane owed her nothing. She also decided not to tell her husband. The less Kitto thought about Anastasia, the more confident Jane felt.

Product information

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale

House sale of Trelawney: A 2021 novel online sale