Table of Contents
A PLUME BOOK
THE HOUSE AT TYNEFORD
NATASHA SOLOMONS is a screenwriter and the internationally bestselling author of
Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English
. She lives with her husband in Dorset, England.
Advance Praise for
The House at Tyneford
“Natasha Solomons has written a lovely, atmospheric novel full of charming characters and good, old-fashioned storytelling. Fans of
and Kate Morton’s
The Forgotten Garden
will absolutely adore
The House at Tyneford
—Kristin Hannah, bestselling author of
The House at Tyneford
is a wonderful, old-fashioned novel that takes you back in time to the manor homes, aristocracy, and domestic servants of England. In this setting, Natasha Solomons gives us a courageous heroine whose incredible love story will keep you in suspense until the final page.”
—Kathleen Grissom, author of
The Kitchen House
The House at Tyneford
is an exquisite tale of love, family, suspense, and survival. Capturing with astonishing detail and realism a vanished world of desire and hope trapped beneath rigid class convention, Natasha Solomons’ stunning new novel tells the story of Elise Landau. Already a bestseller in Britain, American readers will thrill to
The House at Tyneford
—Katherine Howe, author of
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
“An engaging read . . . ripe for the screen.”
“I really didn’t want to put this book down. I didn’t just want to know what happened, I wanted to stay with the people and find out how their stories continued. This book is a real gem.”
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. • Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi–110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Originally published in
Great Britain as
The Novel in the Viola
by Sceptre, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton.
First American Printing, January 2012
Copyright © Natasha Solomons, 2011
All rights reserved
“Concerto in D Minor” composed by Jeff Rona. © 2011 Silkscreen Music. Used with permission of Silkscreen Music.
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
[Novel in the viola]
The house at Tyneford : a novel / Natasha Solomons.
Originally published as: Novel in the viola. London : Sceptre, 2011.
ISBN : 978-1-101-55933-8
1. Household employees—Fiction. 2. Immigrants—Fiction. 3. Jews—England—Fiction. 4. Aristocracy (Social class)—England—Fiction. 5. Great Britain—History—George VI, 1936-1952—Fiction. 6. England—Social life and customs—Fiction. 7. Domestic fiction. I. Title.
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This a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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For Mr. S
am hugely grateful to everyone at Plume, especially my wonderful editors Tara and Pamela. James went above and beyond, agreeing to be shaved by a Mayfair barber wielding a cutthroat razor in the name of research, while Kate allowed me to stuff her viola full of paper. Sotheby’s in London kindly helped me establish the value of a Turner in 1939, and Lisa Curzon generously shared her memories of working in service as a young refugee in 1938. Thanks to Jeff Rona, who composed the viola concerto; to Neel Hammond, who performed the viola part so beautifully; and to Michael Glenn Williams, who played the piano accompaniment (to listen to the music go towww.natashasolomons.com
). Thanks as always to Jocasta; agent Stan; my parents, Carol and Clive; and to my husband and collaborator, David.
Please treat the church and houses with care;
we have given up our homes where many of us lived for
generations to help win the war to keep men free.
We shall return one day and thank you
for treating the village kindly.
—Notice pinned to the door of Tyneford Church
by departing villagers, Christmas Eve, 1941
General Observations on Quadrupeds
hen I close my eyes I see Tyneford House. In the darkness as I lay down to sleep, I see the Purbeck stone frontage in the glow of late afternoon. The sunlight glints off the upper windows, and the air is heavy with the scents of magnolia and salt. Ivy clings to the porch archway, and a magpie pecks at the lichen coating a limestone roof tile. Smoke seeps from one of the great chimneystacks, and the leaves on the unfelled lime avenue are May green and cast mottled patterns on the driveway. There are no weeds yet tearing through the lavender and thyme borders, and the lawn is velvet cropped and rolled in verdant stripes. No bullet holes pockmark the ancient garden wall and the drawing room windows are thrown open, the glass not shattered by shellfire. I see the house as it was then, on that first afternoon.
Everyone is just out of sight. I can hear the ring of the drinks tray being prepared; on the terrace a bowl of pink camellias rests on the table. And in the bay, the fishing boats bounce upon the tide, nets cast wide, the slap of water against wood. We have not yet been exiled. The cottages do not lie in pebbled ruins across the strand, with hazel and blackthorn growing through the flagstones of the village houses. We have not surrendered Tyneford to guns and tanks and birds and ghosts.
I find I forget more and more nowadays. Nothing very important, as yet. I was talking to somebody just now on the telephone, and as soon as I had replaced the receiver I realised I’d forgotten who it was and what we said. I shall probably remember later when I’m lying in the bath. I’ve forgotten other things too: the names of the birds are no longer on the tip of my tongue and I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t remember where I planted the daffodil bulbs for spring. And yet, as the years wash everything else away, Tyneford remains—a smooth pebble of a memory. Tyneford. Tyneford. As though if I say the name enough, I can go back again. Those summers were long and blue and hot. I remember it all, or think I do. It doesn’t seem long ago to me. I have replayed each moment so often in my mind that I hear my own voice in every part. Now, as I write them, they appear fixed, absolute. On the page we live again, young and unknowing, everything yet to happen.
When I received the letter that brought me to Tyneford, I knew nothing about England, except that I wouldn’t like it. That morning I perched on my usual spot beside the draining board in the kitchen as Hildegard bustled around, flour up to her elbows and one eyebrow snowy white. I laughed and she flicked her tea towel at me, knocking the crust out of my hand and onto the floor.
Bit less bread and butter won’t do you any harm.”
I scowled and flicked crumbs onto the linoleum. I wished I could be more like my mother, Anna. Worry had made Anna even thinner. Her eyes were huge against her pale skin, so that she looked more than ever like the operatic heroines she played. When she married my father, Anna was already a star—a black-eyed beauty with a voice like cherries and chocolate. She was the real thing; when she opened her mouth and began to sing, time paused just a little and everyone listened, bathing in the sound, unsure if what they heard was real or some perfect imagining. When the trouble began, letters started to arrive from Venice and Paris, from tenors and conductors. There was even one from a double bass. They were all the same:
Darling Anna, leave Vienna and come to Paris/London/New York and I shall keep you safe . . .
Of course she would not leave without my father. Or me. Or Margot. I would have gone in a flash, packed my ball gowns (if I’d had any) and escaped to sip champagne in the Champs Elysées. But no letters came for me. Not even a note from a second violin. So I ate bread rolls with butter, while Hildegard sewed little pieces of elastic into my waistbands.