Publication Date: January 5th 2015 From Penguin.
Status: Currently Reading.
So this weekend just past, me, my lovely daughter plus a few other bloggers were very kindly invited by Penguin Books and the author (thank you Jessica, Kate and Sarah!) to visit Owlpen Manor – the inspiration for the novel. Deep in rural Gloucestershire, it is a beautiful area of the world and we had a chance to meet Kate, have a tour of the house and grounds and find out more about “The Girl in the Photograph”. I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the weekend and put up some pictures I took while I was there (sorry for the quality on some!)
View of the house from the gardens.
Upon arrival Mel and I were met by Sarah and Jessica and taken to the estate cottage we would be staying in for the night – Grist Mill. Steeped in history it was absolutely beautiful and I could happily have spent a lifetime there (although possibly not alone at night!) where we met Elle, our housemate for the night, and got settled in.
Grist Mill – picture taken from Owlpen Website http://www.owlpen.com/cottages/grist-mill
We then had a light lunch at the Cyder house where we met the rest of the group ( was wonderful to meet so many lovely people who I had spoken to often on Twitter but never met in person) and Kate herself who is stunning and so lovely that everyone felt immediately at ease. After that Sir Nicholas took us for a tour of the house and gardens – he was fantastic, so down to earth and very enthusiastic about his home and its history – after the tour it was VERY easy to see why Kate was so inspired by this location, I was almost inspired enough to write a book myself if only I had the talent.
It is difficult to put into words how lovely the location is and how peaceful – after the tour we had afternoon tea at the Grist Mill, then everyone had a chance to retire to their cottages and relax before dinner. This was once again in the Cyder House and I can’t tell you how yummy the food was – local produce, seasonal, beautifully cooked and again we all had a chance to have a chat about many things including the world of blogging and writing. Terribly relaxed throughout there was no pressure to do anything at all.
On the tour.
Once we were done for the evening it was back to our cottages where I picked up “The Girl in the Photograph” and started reading – with the location set firmly in my head, although I am currently still not quite at the end of it, I can tell you it is a haunting, evocative and beautifully written book, one that you should certainly all be putting on your reading lists. I will of course review it nearer publication.
After a fairly fun and creepy night – Mel and I having our own bedrooms initially but she arrived in with me at some point in the early hours – it really brought the novel into focus. One character in the book remarks of the country “It is too dark to sleep” and as a town lass myself I was enchanted and a little nervous at how black the night actually was. A really intriguing experience and certainly one I could get used to given the opportunity.
Bedroom at Grist Mill
Kate signs some proof copies for us.
Here we all are!
The following morning having imbedded myself totally into “The Girl in the Photograph” I asked Kate whether she had the bones of the story before visiting Owlpen. Apparently this location was absolutely the inspiration for the whole thing – the first scene she wrote was the one where Alice first arrives at Fiercombe (name change for the book) and everything else spun out from there. It was easy to picture the locations in my head as I read and that scene is perfectly placed. Whilst Kate has used dramatic license to change certain aspects of the area to fit in around the story, the heart and soul of it is definitely within the pages.
After breakfast we very sadly said goodbye to everyone and made our way home – but this is a weekend that will stay with me forever, one for the memory box – an informal, fun and highly relaxing experience and one that definitely makes reading the book all the more wonderful – and it would have been a pretty wonderful read without all that.
If you get a chance you should definitely visit Owlpen for a break – I would definitely love to return one day.
Follow Kate on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KateRiordanUK
Found out more here: http://www.owlpen.com/home
There are some much better pictures on their website.
You can follow here: https://twitter.com/OwlpenManor
Huge thanks to Penguin Books and Kate Riordan for the experience of a lifetime.
Happy Reading Folks!