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