The Dream House (by Rachel Hore)

I'd never heard of Rachel Hore. But her novels were recommended to me on Amazon, based on books I had already read and rated. I read some of the reviews, and thought they sounded just my kind of book. So I put her novels on my wishlist, and was delighted to receive one for Christmas last year.

'The Dream House' is unquestionably women's fiction, almost a saga novel. It's mainly in the present, but involves some diaries that take us into flashbacks of the early part of the 20th century.

The main character is Kate. She is finding her London job tiring, at the start of the book, and is worried that she spends too little time with her children. So when her husband Simon suggests that they should sell their house, and buy somewhere bigger in the country, she is happy to do so.

They stay at first with Simon's mother Joyce, and things seem to be going well... until Simon starts behaving strangely, and it's clear that there are problems afoot.

Meanwhile Kate has a strange dream after buying a locket in a second-hand shop. Then she meets Agnes, a delightful old lady, and begins to explore the past through her eyes. A family tree at the start of the book means that some of the unexpected revelations in the book were not in fact surprises; others, later on, were fairly predictable.

It took me a few days to get into the book, but I found the characters - particularly Kate - very believable. While I could see what was coming most of the time, I enjoyed the way it was written, and the process by which circumstances happened. By the end I found it hard to put down. There was a little too much use of coincidence for realism, but somehow it didn't matter.

Overall, I found this novel very enjoyable. I look forward to reading more by Rachel Hore. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys women's fiction that's more than a couple of hundred pages.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 5th July 2009

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