The Song of Hartgrove Hall by Natasha Solomons is a then and now story set in England before and after World War Two. Three brothers and their father return to the family estate after it was requisitioned by England during the war. To their dismay, they discover their beloved ancestral home in disrepair with its treasures sold to pay for the enormous upkeep of it. Seeing no way out, their elderly father plans to dynamite the manor and sell the land. Much like Downton Abbey’s plot, the sons ask their father’s permission to take over the estate in order to have a go at revitalizing it. Their father gives them a period of one year to prove their mettle. Unfortunately, no one could anticipate the entry of a Russian immigrant vocalist named Edie Rose with whom, all three of the brothers fall in love.
I really enjoyed two-thirds of this book. However, the last third changed my opinion of it. I came away with the feeling that the author worked really hard in the beginning and then lost momentum at the end. There are gaps in time and missing explanations, which I as a reader, believed were necessary to the story. Towards the end, I kept thinking I missed something, but no, it just wasn’t there. I didn’t find the story predictable; there are many plot twists which move the story forward and keep it interesting.
I think Solomons is a good writer. One passage in particular which involves one of the brothers finding-out a close friend is dying was written in a way which brought tears to my eyes. It was a fine example of the ‘show don’t tell’ writing rule. I intend to read Solomons previous best-selling novel to see if it is more coherent and will report back!