Of Houses and Ghosts

Keera- Iona Allsebrook, PR and social media volunteer for Lincoln Book Festival, writes:

I have often wondered how many great writers begin to tell their tale; a tale from deep within their minds. Imagination… how do we conjure any plot in our heads to plant the singular seed that will bloom and intrigue many minds; possibly change their outlook on certain points of life?
The Victorian Era is a time of change, from the evolution of the industrial revolution to the changes in society and the development of science, technology and social deference. I think it’s safe to say that, this year, the Lincoln Book Festival raised many questions: is this what our writers believe the Victorian era to be like? How our heroes and heroines struggle and strive to make their mark visible among mass change?
Of course, another factor is to be thankful that, in a way, today we have better living conditions, and we can all have a lovely cuppa without the worry of cholera; we can sit by the warm glow of the fire without the worry of a chimney sweep boy falling onto our living room floor.
Baroness Sarah Hogg and Susan Fletcher indulged my mind last night with their view on old haunted houses and glimmers into our ancestor’s past. I couldn’t help but think, in Katherine’s House, of the amount of historical research and knowledge that went into this masterpiece, and how Kettlethorpe witnessed nine events…not just any nine ‘ordinary’ events, but those happenings that leave a prominent mark on Lincoln’s history, as a city and a community. How stories ranging from the ‘first lady of England’, Katherine Swynford, to the introduction of communication and entertainment, with the typewriter, radio and the sparkling scenes of watching Hollywood through the Silver Screen, are all buried in Hogg’s book: buried in Katherine’s story.
“That’s what Kettlethorpe did for you, making you see the times that you never lived”. A few words read by Baroness Sarah Hogg’s grandson. A beautiful end to a perfect tale, embedded in Lincoln’s long history.

Multi-award-winning author, Susan Fletcher, found her seventh novel, the House of Glass, compelling to write and, with originally not intending to write a gothic novel, finding that her ideal location was at the heart of Hidcote Manor- between the border of Gloucestershire and Warwickshire. She was enraptured by the garden’s ‘many rooms’, and beauty. The idea of ghosts, and what it could mean to be haunted and have a thousand eyes glaring at your every move, even when you feel that you’re in a safe place, intrigued her mind of fiction to run wild. In Fletcher’s talk, she discussed how the many places at Hidcote could easily revolve around a theme, and, if you could have a haunted house, “Why not have a haunted garden too?”

Now, time for the main synopsis of Fletcher’s spooky novel: revolving around gothic mysteries of Daphne Du Maurier and Charlotte Bronte, Fletcher explores a ghost story within a love story. Our heroine is a young woman with a rare condition… that you will find out soon enough… the young woman, called Clara, is our bold and fragile protagonist. In 1914, Clara is sent to a neglected old country house to fill a greenhouse with beautiful exotic plants from Kew Gardens. Clara soon discovers that something is hidden far within the house’s haunted past, with the maids afraid and an absent owner. There are already flowers in bloom… Clara seeks to discover the unknown, and ventures further into the house’s gloomy interiors, finding the most peculiar of treasures. In every room there is a story to tell, whether that be haunted or a legend. That is for you, the reader, to decide. Join Clara’s journey in the House of Glass.