The Valentine House
By Emma Henderson
From the Orange Prize shortlisted author of GRACE WILLIAMS SAYS IT LOUD, an entrancing novel about a young French girl and the English family who invade her Alpine village and her life.
'Henderson's Grace Williams Says It Loud was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and this more than matches it.'
Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail
In June 1914, Sir Anthony Valentine, a keen mountaineer, arrives with his family to spend the summer in their chalet, high in the French Alps. There, for the first time, fourteen-year-old foundling Mathilde starts work as one of the 'uglies' - village girls employed as servants and picked, it is believed, to ensure they don't catch Sir Anthony's roving eye.
For Mathilde it is the start of a life-long entanglement with les anglais - strange, exciting people, far removed from the hard grind of farming. Except she soon finds the Valentines are less carefree than they appear, with a curiously absent daughter no one talks about. It will be decades - disrupted by war, accidents and a cruel betrayal - before Mathilde discovers the key to the mystery. And in 1976, the year Sir Anthony's great-great grandson comes to visit, she must decide whether to use it.
Vividly evoking the dramatic landscape that so enthrals the Valentines, this deeply involving, intriguing novel tells the story of an English family through the generations and a memorable French woman, whose lives seem worlds apart yet which become inextricably connected.
Emma Henderson's first novel, Grace Williams Says It Loud (Sceptre, 2010), won the McKitterick Prize and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, the Wellcome Book Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book and the Authors' Club First Novel Award, as well as being runner-up for the Mind Book of the Year.
Emma Henderson went to school in London and studied at Somerville College, Oxford and Yale University. She worked at Penguin as a copywriter for two years, then spent a decade teaching English in comprehensive schools and further education colleges before moving to the French Alps where, for six years, she ran a ski and snowboard lodge. She now lives in Derbyshire and is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Keele University.
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- Publication date:
06 Apr 2017
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I was totally seduced by this vivid, complex and enthralling novel — Fanny Blake, Woman & Home
A beautifully written, tender book, which rewards patient reading. — Antonia Senior, The Times
This poetic and nuanced novel expertly reveals the complexity of Mathilde's relationship with the glamorous yet troubled family that has fuelled her feelings of exclusion yet fired her imagination . . . [a work] of illuminating beauty — Emma Claire Sweeney, Financial Times
Henderson's Grace Williams Says It Loud was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and this more than matches it. Gripping and poignant, it is also a passionate love letter to a landscape that has captivated the author — Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail
A lively, complex novel, and Mathilde is a splendid character — Anthony Gardner, Mail on Sunday
I love her writing! I totally loved Grace Williams Says It Loud. The Valentine House is another compulsive, original read told with a delicious wit, while remaining harsh and mysteriously life-affirming. How does she do it? — Helen Lederer
Engrossing — Boundless
An intriguing tale of two cultures — France Magazine
Full of mysteries, fascinating characters and enjoyable humour . . . with excellent characters, an intriguing plot, and a stunning setting . . . you're in for a treat. — Bookbag
The slow unravelling of the secrets is beautifully done with a clever building up of the tension. I was very impressed with the writing - intriguing plotting and yet there are deeper themes of love, identity and different cultures. 5 stars — Nudge