‘The Animals at Lockwood Manor’ by Jane Healey

My rating: 3 stars

Throughout the years, authors have been choosing to set their books in striking houses that hide secrets and disturb their new inhabitants. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë are only two remarkable examples. The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is also set in an imposing house, but its characters are not as well crafted nor the pacing is as successful as they could have been. In fact, the gripping resolution asked for a much better structured novel overall.

The year is 1939. Hetty Cartwright, one of the first-person narrators, has been given the responsibility to keep the Natural History Museum’s mammal collection safe at Lockwood Manor, since the war is expected to ravage London. She studied Zoology at Oxford and her dream has always been working at a museum. She was adopted by a well-off family as a child, but close after her father’s death, her mother renounced her. When she arrives at the new address of her precious collection, she is greeted by Major Lord Lockwood, who is rude and arrogant, and soon after meets her daughter, Lucy, whose point of view readers are also presented with.

Lucy’s mother and grandmother died just a couple of months before, so she considers her responsibility to oversee the running of the manor. Its many empty rooms leave her uneasy, however. She recalls how her mother, who believed that she was being haunted by a woman in white, and later herself became plagued by nightmares. Her mother wished she had never gone living at Lockwood Manor. Hetty’s arrival gives her a new occupation, as she starts helping cleaning and dusting the animals. Later they have breakfast together and start forging a bond. Continue reading

Paperback Releases I’m Excited About

Paperbacks should be far more appreciated! They are light and compact, fitting perfectly in our bags, which allows us, devoted readers, to take them everywhere. Very rarely do I buy the hardback editions of books, despite them being published at least a year earlier than paperbacks in the UK (publishing practices in Portugal are entirely different in this regard).

At the moment, there are seven books that I’m excited to read in paperback, although I probably won’t be able to get to them all this year.

 

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

I have sky-high expectations for this novel, as it has not only been highly praised by many reviewers, but it has also won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2020. In 1596, a little girl, who lives in Stratford-upon-Avon, is taken ill with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, tries to find someone to help them, since they are alone at home. Agnes, their mother, is in a garden where she plants medicinal herbs, and their father, who happens to be Shakespeare, is working in London. They still have no idea that Hamnet will not live long. It will be released in paperback on the 1st of April. Continue reading