Grange House is an elegant, charming recreation of a late Victorian gothic novel, complete with ghostly appearances, long-lost family secrets, and a narrative style that calls to mind the works of Henry James or Wilkie Collins. Our seventeen-year-old heroine, Maisie Thomas, is the picture of innocence as the novel begins, and though she yearns for adventure and romance, even she cannot imagine where her curiosity will lead her.
Daughter of a well-to-do New York family, Maisie and her devoted Mama and Papa spend each summer at Grange House, a mansion set along the Maine coast. Aside from the household staff, their chosen lodging has one permanent resident, the ailing, elderly Miss Grange. A local authoress of repute, Miss Grange is assumed by the family to be a poor relation of the mansion’s former owners. Taking Maisie under her wing, she recounts fantastic stories to the young girl of the Granges’ early history. However, neither Miss Grange nor her stories are quite what they seem to be. It’s up to Maisie to sort through the real and the fictional, and to sift through details hidden within twenty years’ worth of stories, letters, and diaries – before the tragedies of Grange House begin to repeat themselves once more. Maisie finds the romance she’s been seeking as well, but must ultimately decide between two men: will it be her father’s young business partner, Jonathan Lanman, or charming Bart Hunnowell?
Sarah Blake’s wonderfully chosen language brings us back in time to the ever subtle, precise, yet melodramatic world of high society at the turn of the last century, in which women who seem almost to faint at the slightest disturbance of equilibrium can still be strong enough to keep secrets which could hold a family together. At times the ornate description tends to interfere with the heightening suspense. Those who can stand fast against the urge to race through to the very end, however, have an exciting reading experience in store.