Life has a way of surprising us. When we think we are defeated, we find a way to rise from the ashes.
Natasha Solomons’s 2015 novel, The Song of Hartgrove Hall is set in two different time periods and is told through the eyes of one character. Harry Fox-Talbot is the youngest son of a family that has resided in an aristocratic home in Dorset, England for centuries. But the world around him has changed. Though he and his brothers have returned from fighting for King and country in World War II in one piece, the home they grew up in is not so lucky.
A year after the war ends, a new woman enters Harry’s (known to his family and peers as Fox) life. She is Edie Rose, a Jewish woman who became known all over the country for her wartime songs. Her presence in his life changes everything. Fifty years later, Edie has recently passed away. Fox is unable to move on from his grief, until he starts to spend time with his grandson. Though the boy is very young, his musical abilities are obvious. Through the time with his grandson, Fox not only starts to come back to life, but to heal the wounds of the past.
The ability to jump between time periods and narratives, as a writer, is a skill that for many writers does not come easy. Many writers who are unable to do this seamlessly often lose readers who are unable to follow the narrative and character arcs. Natasha Solomons is not one of those writers. But while the book is well written and a good read, I thought that this was not one of Ms. Solomons’s better books. I cannot put my finger on the exact reason, but I just prefer her other novels.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.