[Epub] ❧ The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House By Stephanie Lam – Loufanet.info

The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House Stephanie Lam S Stunning Debut Novel, The Mysterious Affair At Castaway House, Is A Gripping Read Laced With Mystery, Secrets And LoveIt S And Eighteen Year Old Rosie Churchill Has Run Away To The Beautiful But Run Down Castaway House In The Seaside Town Of Helmstone But When She Uncovers A Scandal Locked Away In The Walls Of The Old House, She Soon Comes To Realise That Neither Her Own Troubled Past Nor That Of The House Will Stay Buried For LongIn Fresh Faced Robert Carver Comes To Castaway House To Spend A Languid Summer In The Company Of His Much Wealthier Cousin, Alec Bray But The Brays Are A Damaged Family, With Damaging Secrets And Little Does Robert Know That His World Is About To Change For EverAs Rosie Begins To Learn About Robert, The Further She Is Drawn Into The Mysterious History Of The House, And Their Stories, Old And New, Entwine A finely constructed, highly atmospheric mystery from a truely gifted storyteller I was swept away by The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House It was hugely enjoyable, surprising, with a bit of romance and all done with a tongue in cheek humour I absolutely adored The book cleverly explores British cultural shifts between the 1920s and the 1960s through the eyes of contrasting yet equally intriguing characters, all living in the same fictional seaside town of Helmstone The period details an A finely constructed, highly atmospheric mystery from a truely gifted storyteller I was swept away by The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House It was hugely enjoyable, surprising, with a bit of romance and all done with a tongue in cheek humour I absolutely adored The book cleverly explores British cultural shifts between the 1920s and the 1960s through the eyes of contrasting yet equally intriguing characters, all living in the same fictional seaside town of Helmstone The period details and contrasting literary styles of the 2 eras are staggering, you really feel tottaly immersed in the Jazz age of the 1920s and the sexual revolution of the mid 1960s Yet we are allowed to make our own conclusions as to the impact of that rampant social change during those 40 years, and how that time has affected our own contemporary culture today The excellent, thought provoking social history, and the gripping excitement of the writing all combine to make this a thinking womans juicy read I loved it and I would definitely recommend this great book This debut historical fiction novel uses the, perhaps, overused plot device of two dual time lines in this case 1924 and 1965 The book revolves around Castaway House, which overlooks the sea in Helmstone In 1965 it is young Rosie Churchill who has fled her home and education, despite being the most promising pupil in her class and about to take her A Level exams Castaway House was once a beautiful house which dominated the town, but by the time Rosie arrives, it is a slightly run down board This debut historical fiction novel uses the, perhaps, overused plot device of two dual time lines in this case 1924 and 1965 The book revolves around Castaway House, which overlooks the sea in Helmstone In 1965 it is young Rosie Churchill who has fled her home and education, despite being the most promising pupil in her class and about to take her A Level exams Castaway House was once a beautiful house which dominated the town, but by the time Rosie arrives, it is a slightly run down boarding house She spends her time working for Mrs Hale carrying cups of tea and washing up, instead of studying The other boarders include a new visitor, Dockie , who says he is returning to the house, but claims he has lost his memory and drinks too much In her room, she studies the pencil sketch of a young man, R.C and wonders about the message, Robert Carver is innocent, etched into the wall The old mystery takes her mind off her own troubles as her own life becomescomplicated.The storyline in 1924 concerns Robert Carver, who arrives at the house to recuperate from a lung problem The house belongs to his cousin Alec Bray, who inherited it after the death of his mother However, when Robert arrives, he finds that Alec has married in haste a young actress called Clara, who insults Robert, labelling him a poor relation However, things are not as simple as they first seem why does everyone say that Castaway House is full of secrets, why is the maid, Agnes, always crying and is Clara really the cruel and ungrateful wife she appears to be As the novel progresses, secrets are uncovered and we discover what Robert was accused of and why Rosie fled her home The time frame of the novel means that Rosie can meet people from 1924 and makes the storylineimmediate However, there do seem to bethan a few coincidences along the way and overall the plot is a little predictable Saying that, it is a pleasant novel and an enjoyable, if easy, read.Rated 3.5 Visit the locations in the novel Travel to Castaway HouseOh how I enjoyed this book Creepy and exciting at the same time and I just love books about old creaky houses with secrets to share There s just something about them This house had many secrets and it was just a great way to immerse myself into a lovely old building from start to finish I just wish Helmstone was real as I would really like to go there The star of the show was the one setting described and evoked so differently that was Visit the locations in the novel Travel to Castaway HouseOh how I enjoyed this book Creepy and exciting at the same time and I just love books about old creaky houses with secrets to share There s just something about them This house had many secrets and it was just a great way to immerse myself into a lovely old building from start to finish I just wish Helmstone was real as I would really like to go there The star of the show was the one setting described and evoked so differently that was a booktrail favourite, it was like holding a old black and white photo over a modern setting The difference is as stark as silk and rough taffeta Alec is trying to project an image of glamour and a privileged world with ladies who wear silk before switching to the poorer sixties where the texture of society as well as the clothes is somewhat darker and rougher There was no rough friction slips between the two time periods however and the overall effect was smooth and effective.When they converge the effect is quite something Stephanie Lam s The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House is an evocative, twisty narrative set across two timeframes Vivid and brilliantly plotted it had me guessing till the very end In 1960s Helmstone a fictional town no doubt inspired by the author s home town, Brighton young Rosie Churchill has left home under a cloud and rents a room in dilapidated Castaway House Here she finds a message scratched into the walls Robert Carver is innocent and uncovers a long buried scandal In 1924 R Stephanie Lam s The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House is an evocative, twisty narrative set across two timeframes Vivid and brilliantly plotted it had me guessing till the very end In 1960s Helmstone a fictional town no doubt inspired by the author s home town, Brighton young Rosie Churchill has left home under a cloud and rents a room in dilapidated Castaway House Here she finds a message scratched into the walls Robert Carver is innocent and uncovers a long buried scandal In 1924 Robert Carver stays at Castaway, guest of his cousin Alec Bray and his stunning, ice queen wife Clara Mesmerised by the wealth and beauty of their existence he is blind to dangers which lurk in the corner of their world As Rosie uncovers the mystery of what happened to Robert, she must face her own troubled past I absolutely adored this novel it reminded me of Sarah Waters in its sensuality the love scenes are gorgeous Lam weaves the two narratives seamlessly she captures the flavour of both eras without resorting to clich the causal sexism and predatory attitude towards young women in 60s Britain is shocking in its realism and the superficial glamour of the roaring 20s is captured perfectly The descriptions of the beautiful, careless rich, languid in the magnificent Castaway with its diaphanous curtains fluttering in the breeze brought to mind The Great Gatsby And while Lam writes exquisite descriptive prose the story rips along at a cracking pace If you enjoy being whisked away to the country of the near and not so near past and you enjoy well written, sensual mysteries to lose yourself in, then you could do no better than this fabulous book LOVED IT Firstly I won a copy of this book via The Book Boutique s Facebook Page competition and very promptly received a pristine ARC copy of the book So thank you to them for choosing me and I eagerly started to devour my copy The book itself was a very well presented soft cover copy with a very satisfying floppiness to it which felt good to handle It also has an nicely beautiful cover which to me is always an attractive feature for any book.Onto the review The description on the back of the book Firstly I won a copy of this book via The Book Boutique s Facebook Page competition and very promptly received a pristine ARC copy of the book So thank you to them for choosing me and I eagerly started to devour my copy The book itself was a very well presented soft cover copy with a very satisfying floppiness to it which felt good to handle It also has an nicely beautiful cover which to me is always an attractive feature for any book.Onto the review The description on the back of the book gives a very nice overview of the story that you are about to enjoy and I wouldn t like to say too muchwith regards to the plot as I think it would spoil another readers enjoyment to be told too much Suffice to say it is a mystery full of interesting and well thought out characters set in a seaside town in two different decades of the twentieth century The art Deco period of the 20 s and the swinging sixties I must say that in lots of these dual stranded novels the two time periods are one older era be it 20 s, 30 s, 40 s etc and one modern twenty first century timescale It made a nice change for the modern part of the story to still be in a bygone era, pre mobiles, internet etc, etc so full respect to the author for the well chosen time settings.There are three major characters in each time period 1924 Clara, Alec Robert, 1965 Rosie, Star and Dockie and a full supporting cast in each time also I liked all the characters in both settings and thought they were very well developed and interesting All of them adding tremendously to the story and how it develops.I believe this is Stephanie Lams first novel and was very impressed with her skill as a writer and her ability to conjure up a well paced, thoroughly intriguing and very well written piece of work.It was easy to imagine the setting of the seaside town in both its 20 s heyday and its declining 60 s persona and the balance between the two was brilliant.The two parts of the tale were told in alternating chapters and flowed well into each other and helped the story along very well indeed.It is a reasonably longish book 500 pages but once you start it is quite a gripping read and I finished it in just a few days as I found myself reading it at any and every opportunity I wont say thank you for the couple of late nights it caused me All in all I wouldn t hesitate to both recommend this book to others either by word of mouth or by this review and will definitely be looking out for Stephanie s next book and beyond.Thank You Again for the opportunity and I hope this book is successful for the author she deserves the credit I do like it when a book lives up to its title so I pleased to report that there are a number of mysteries between the pages of this debut novel by Stephanie Lam.This book uses the dual time line style of narrative with alternate chapters narrated by Rosie Churchill in 1965 and Robert Carver in 1924 Rosie is just 18 and has left home before finishing school to share a flat in Castaway House When Rosie is given a picture of Robert because they share the same initials her interest is piqued an I do like it when a book lives up to its title so I pleased to report that there are a number of mysteries between the pages of this debut novel by Stephanie Lam.This book uses the dual time line style of narrative with alternate chapters narrated by Rosie Churchill in 1965 and Robert Carver in 1924 Rosie is just 18 and has left home before finishing school to share a flat in Castaway House When Rosie is given a picture of Robert because they share the same initials her interest is piqued and she determines to find outabout him Due to the two are separated by a mere forty years she is able to meet people who were around at the same time and as expected theshe finds out the deeper the mystery becomes This is not all though because Rosie has her own secrets as do other members of the household.In 1924 Robert Carver spends his summer with his cousin Alec Bray and his wife Clara in the summer while convalescing from an illness in the seaside town of Helmstone no small shared flat for Robert though at this time the house is at its best complete with servants but it soon becomes apparent that Alec and Clara are far from happily married and Robert begins to regret his decision but then he meets the next door neighbours who include the Doctor s daughter Lizzie and Robert graduates from boy to man.This book is a whopping 500 plus pages but at no time did I feel that any parts of the book needed editing which illustrates the power of Stephanie Lam s writing The period details aren t quite as defined as I would have liked but the two time periods were defined enough to avoid any confusion between them but I felt it relied quite heavily on the readers own knowledge to pick up on some of the references The town of Helmstone although fictional felt like a real place and I was clearly able to visualise Castaway House from the description whilst wondering if the deterioration in the house over the forty years was a metaphor for the standards people were supposed to aspire to, although the evidence of some of the characters we met weren t quite aspirational enough Although we have two main protagonists the other characters have also had a lot of attention lavished on them, including those on the periphery to the tale which meant that when I closed the last page I was sorry to say goodbye.I am very grateful to Penguin Books UK for giving me a copy of this book in return for this honest review and I can t wait to see what Stephanie Lam delivers next, clearly an author to keep an eye out for So This is the first time I have written a proper review on goodreads and not on my wordy blogger blog Regardless, I was honoured to win this book, The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam, in a goodreads giveaway and I won t lie, when I read the back synopsis, I began to wonder why I entered said giveaway as it was not a typical book someone like me would take a gander with.I take all of the latter back now upon completion of reading this first novel of Stephanie Lam s.Of co So This is the first time I have written a proper review on goodreads and not on my wordy blogger blog Regardless, I was honoured to win this book, The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam, in a goodreads giveaway and I won t lie, when I read the back synopsis, I began to wonder why I entered said giveaway as it was not a typical book someone like me would take a gander with.I take all of the latter back now upon completion of reading this first novel of Stephanie Lam s.Of course, I cannot give too much away as I was rather shocked to realise that the copy that I had received was an advance readers copy ARC.I know people often frown upon it, however, I enjoyed the duel writing periods, one being 1924 and another being 1965 We have two characters, one for each period Robert Carver, the protagonist of 1924 and Rosie Churchill, the protagonist of 1965 And ultimately, their tales interlink as a world of mystery and questions needing answers is unveiled to Rosie, to the point that you feel as if you are her and you are unwittingly at first, trying to figure out the truth of forty years ago I guess uncovering the past several years down the line is something I do consider as mildly fascinating and I to, have often found myself wondering into the past and eager to find out.The way it is written, aids this concept As something is hinted at in 1965, we return to 1924 to fill in some of the gaps and vice versa However, this skill also plantsquestions into your mind, like Who is this Dockie , Why is he at Castaway , Why did Rosie run away to Castaway house and What does that writing beneath the windowsill mean It s questions like these that propel you to read onwards and yet all along, you still do not know the truth until those last few pages but even then, there are doubts in your mind and the only one who can answer that is Dockie himself.The style of writing, I feel personally, helps the reader flow through Rosie Churchill s journey but also, makes you feel as if, whilst you are reading, that you too are piecing together the facts as they come along, just as Rosie is doing throughout The historical aspect of the two eras in Helmstone are important as well, I feel 1924 follows the aftermath of the first world war I think My history is sketchy and the era of jazz, dancing, how sexual promiscuity is frowned upon and everything is very much family based, sex and children after marriage and the such, yet 1965 shows an era of change, with council flats blooming high above the town and what I can only describe as the sexual revolution of the 1960 s what with the hints of gay men and female on female emotions and feelings It s fun to read as you can see the change and morph of the years on this fictional seaside town of Helmstone, Castaway House being the feature point of the entirety of the novel.The characters are each wonderfully designed and equally unique and distinguishable, which of course, makes for ease of reading The relationships between characters are well piqued to grab your interest Something else I actually enjoyed was how the relationships were not the main focus of the novel, albeit, they were important, and Rosie and Star were a treat for a reader such as I, but even then, Rosie and Dockie, Carver and the Featherses, and we cannot ignore Clara Bray both past and present The relationships and characters added to the story and to the mystery of the house and although there were indeed characters you knew you should have disliked, you could not help but be torn and like them as well again, I am looking at Clara Bray.I must add, as well, that although when I received the novel, the 500 daunting pages loomed at me precariously and I worried I would struggle to read it, especially as I am a bigger fan of shirter, snappier chapters as well, it gives me time to breathe whilst reading and if I remember correctly, this novel only has 14 or 15 chapters spilt across the 500 pages, so you can see why I worried so And yet, as soon as Rosie finds the mysterious drawing of R.C from 1924, I wondered who he was and threw myself into the next chapter, and then I d rush into Rosie s next chapter and repeat because I wanted to uncover the mysterious affair at Castaway House.Of course, I won t ruin the ending, but it is to be enjoyed and that is purely because I couldn t figure out who it was and why it happened and well, you have just done 40 years of delving into the past to find the answers You will ask yourself questions along the way and you may find answers, you may even piece some sections together yourself, however you will also wonder a heck of a lot as to why you did not see THAT coming Oh, it s beautiful And its a different kind of mystery, that have families and unknown souls not your typical murder mystery that was enjoyable too.This is definitely a novel for the female readers, a beautifully written and atmospheric piece of work that I think can be thoroughly enjoyed by many and all.I am intrigued to see if Stephanie Lam will give usin the future I am keen on reading her work again as I have repeated constantly in updates whilst reading this book, I adored how beautifully written her prose is Note I received this copy of The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam for free through Goodreads First Reads The opinions and thoughts I share in this review are my own.I was delighted to receive this copy of The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House through the post as it was one which greatly appealed to me I was shocked to discover on it s arrival that it is an Advanced Reading Copy ARC , so I am not allowed to post any quotes from it much as I may wish At a little over 5 Note I received this copy of The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam for free through Goodreads First Reads The opinions and thoughts I share in this review are my own.I was delighted to receive this copy of The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House through the post as it was one which greatly appealed to me I was shocked to discover on it s arrival that it is an Advanced Reading Copy ARC , so I am not allowed to post any quotes from it much as I may wish At a little over 500 pages, this paperback book is rather thick but surprisingly lightweight with reasonably sized but not overly large text I especially enjoyed the floppiness of the pages it was a joy not to have to wrestle to open a book The cover is somewhat sedate and rather dignified but striking I adore it.The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House is a story set in two different time periods The scene is set in the seaside town of Helmstone, a place with sharp cliffs, holidaymakers, day trippers, a fairground and a hotel among other things Chapter one begins the story in 1965 with the main character of that period Rosie Churchill She is a young woman in her late teens and run away from home and sixth form to rent a bed in the rundown yet still beautiful Castaway House in Helmstone Castaway House though has its secrets Rosie is soon set on discovering who the mysterious R.C is a drawing of a man with the initials R.C is found wedged behind some skirting boards, a mysterious message is discovered carved and inked into the frame of a window and whispers of trouble years ago come to Rosie s ears.In 1924, a young and somewhat na ve nineteen year old Robert Carver makes his way to Helmstone to stay with his wealthier, older andexciting cousin Alec at his beautiful home, Castaway House He arrives to find that Alec has married, walking straight into the lives of a damaged, un loving couple with far reaching secrets Little does Robert know that his summer at Castaway House will change his life and the lives of all he comes in contact with.At 500 pages, The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House rather intimidated me upon first glance Once I started reading however I was hooked The story is written in the first person, from the viewpoint of either Robert or Rosie depending on which year the chapter was set in I think the span of time covered in both 1924 and 1965 was only a few months the summer of 1924 and sometime from September in 1965 although there were links between the two The story was brought to life by the author s words The characters were wonderfully flawed and exquisitely human No one was perfect and each had characteristics and traits and got into situations that you could easily understand, feel and relate to.This book was very much set in the UK Helmstone sounded to me like the seaside town of Brighton on the south coast of England There were also many mentions of the 1st and 2nd world wars In 1924 and 1965, both would still be very near memory to the population Many would have lost parents, bothers, cousins, uncles or sweethearts in the fighting There would still be reminders, especially on the coast shops previously used as lookout posts and maybe a pier destroyed so it couldn t be used to land enemy planes.The story of Castaway House and its inhabitants in both 1924 and 1965 were linked wonderfully, with little tendrils of knowledge and hits at answers and evenquestions coming throughout the story The way the author intertwined the characters throughout the book and between 1924 and 1965 was magnificently done and I am completely in awe I was kept guessing throughout the majority of the book until the full story was told and the characters truly unveiled I will admit to making a few guesses which ended up evenly split between right and wrong The mystery of Castaway House and its inhabitants was one which touched many lives I was completely enchanted and thrilled with the story and characters and didn t want to finish reading Unfortunately I had to in order to find out what had really happened.This book is one I will keep going back to and will loudly praise to all who will listen Why Because it s bl dy brilliant The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam which I won through Goodreads Giveaways is an intriguing story spanning 1924 and 1965 and laced with scandal, tragedy and mystery It begins when Rosie Churchill, running away from a secret, takes a room with two other girls at the dilapidated Castaway House near Helmstone Struggling to put the past behind her and survive financially, Rosie s curiosity ignites when she finds not only an old pencil drawing of a man with the initials R.C The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam which I won through Goodreads Giveaways is an intriguing story spanning 1924 and 1965 and laced with scandal, tragedy and mystery It begins when Rosie Churchill, running away from a secret, takes a room with two other girls at the dilapidated Castaway House near Helmstone Struggling to put the past behind her and survive financially, Rosie s curiosity ignites when she finds not only an old pencil drawing of a man with the initials R.C but the cryptic phrase Robert Carver is innocent gouged under the window sill, discovering a connection between the two The mystery becomes evenintoxicating when a drifter named Dorkie appears at Castaway House and starts remembering the man and the dark history of the house.In a flashback to 1924 Robert Carver has been invited to Castaway House by his cousin Alec Bray hoping the sea air will revitalize his health What Robert quickly comes to realize is that the Bray s marriage is tenuous, both hiding secrets that could tear them apart Although he loves his cousin, he quickly falls into a web of illicit passion and intrigue that could endanger his life.Told from the perspective of Rosie Churchill in 1965 and Robert Carver in 1924, the plot traces the history of the house linking past and present, and culminating in a climax that will shock the reader With vivid description Stephanie Lam juxtaposes the former glory of the luxurious regency style home on Gaunts Cliff with the rundown Castaway House of the present, contrasting the wealth and power of the Brays in their heyday with their fallen fortunes and broken lives Skilfully the author unveils the deceit and immorality in the Bray family that s hidden behind wealth, decorum and respectability and links it to the broken lives in 1965 Although the connection between the two periods is balanced and fluid, the plot doesn t spark much emotion untilthan half way through It also seems as if Stephanie Lam is trying to provokeinterest in the plot with the lesbian proclivity between Rosie and Star Unlike Johnny Clarke who hides his homosexuality with quick encounters, theirs isopen which would have been considered offensive in 1965 In the plot there are wonderful ghostly touches like the whistling and the open chest when Rosie slept in Clara s room, and moments of wry wit and humour But there are problems in the story like Robert Carver s death His death in prison is too pat Where was his family Why didn t he have a lawyer Why were no concessions made because of his health and a lack of evidence Yet the plot is engaging especially with its dramatic mix of colourful personalities The characters are realistic, adding their own brand of power and drama to this story with all their flaws and faults Rosie Churchill a high achiever at school is haunted by guilt and runs away She s a trustworthy, loyal and kind eighteen year old with a conscience when she takes a drifter with an envelope full of money under her wing Dorkie a muddled drunk who suffers from headaches is likeable but riddled with guilt as he determinedly searches for clues to his past while Rosie s friend Star is unreliable, self obsessed and amusing Her grandmother Clara Bray has few scruples, is bluntly honest, rude and foul mouthed, a child of the streets who struggled to gain wealth and respectability through marriage She s feisty and wilful, but open minded enough in later years to meet and listen to Dorkie s story Robert Carver the nineteen year old with a chest ailment is intelligent and good hearted but is easily duped while his cousin Alec, born into wealth is impetuous, wild, and flighty Yet for all the cracks in their relationship, Robert and Alec are loyal friends and thoughtful cousins.For a first novel The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House is fascinating and enjoyable to read I would give it a 3.5


About the Author: Stephanie Lam

Stephanie Lam is a novelist, teacher and wellbeing journalist She writes the popular Everyday Escape back page column for Breathe magazine on real world ways toachieve headspace and happiness, and for twenty years has also worked as a teacher alongside highly stressed people held in immigration detention.In 2015 a crisis transformed her life and forced her to rethink everything she thought she knew From being a super frazzled perfectionist who thought being busy was her special skill, she then became an expert on stress and how to escape it She went on to devise Unfrazzle, an easy six step plan to help everyone, no matter what their frazzle status, reclaim true calm within everyday life.


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