‘A tale of tangled secrets and a search for the truth.
The past cannot lie silent forever’
– The Secret of Eveline House
[ About the Book ]
It’s 1949 and playwright Violet Ward has returned from London with her husband Henry and young daughter Sylvia, to take up residence in Eveline House in County Wicklow.
Her plays are banned in Ireland and the people of the small country town are hostile to her. Then timid little Sylvia receives a threatening letter calling her ‘the daughter of the Devil’. Horrified, Violet wants to return to London. But Henry is violently opposed to leaving Ireland again.
In 2019 Emily O’Connor buys her dream house. Eveline House is like a time capsule, locked up since 1950, still full of personal possessions and hauntingly beautiful photographs of the family that once lived there. A family that seems to have abruptly walked out of their life and disappeared through the cracks of time.
Emily realises that the town has hidden cruel secrets – secrets which will impact on her life in ways she could never have imagined. Soon questions about the fate of the lost family again demand to be answered.
[ My Review ]
The Secret of Eveline House by Sheila Forsey was just published yesterday, April 2nd, with Poolbeg Books. It is a very intriguing historical novel taking the reader back to a different Ireland, a time where the influence of the Church was very evident and where censorship was rife.
Playwright Violet Ward ran away from home to the UK in her teens. Suffocated by her life and all the rules that surrounded it, Violet dreamed of bigger things. Violet was never going to settle for marriage and life as a homemaker. She had plans, big ones. Over the years she settled in London, relishing in the freedom it offered her but it came at a cost. Violet had loved her family and although from a young age she rebelled the stifling daily regiment, she loved Ireland. She loved the smells, the scenery, the seasons but she just could not be herself in this restricted environment.
Violet established herself as a playwright and in time became quite successful. Her plays were banned in Ireland due to their content and her mother refused to have anything at all to do with Violet. She was disowned by her own.
In London Violet met Henry Ward, an Irish emigrant making his name as a much lauded goldsmith. Henry had left Ireland with his father and brother years previously but always held a longing to return to the homeland. Violet was the perfect woman for him. She was different, independent, everything and more he looked for in woman. They married and their daughter Sylvia was born soon after. With the family complete a decision was made to return to Ireland, a decision that Violet was never completely comfortable with.
They moved into the beautiful Eveline House in a small town in Co. Wicklow in 1949 but from the beginning it was clear that Violet was not welcome. The locals were increasingly inhospitable toward her. Her name was mentioned in whispers as they discussed with fervour her writing and her plays. With her work censored the locals were feasting on rumours. Tongues wagged and attitudes changed as her reputation spread across town. Violet feared for her daughter’s safety and wished to leave Ireland and go back to London but Henry refused to be chased away by such bullying behaviour.
Seventy years later, 2019 and dress designer Emily O’ Connor attends an auction. Emily lives in Dublin city and is looking for a bigger home, one with character and a place where she can showcase her bridal creations. Immediately Emily falls in love with the house and puts in a successful bid. The house becomes hers. Eveline House is to be her new home. Something about Eveline House captured Emily’s attention. It was like a house that the previous owners had just walked out of. Nothing had changed since the 1950s.
Emily soon discovers that all is not as it seems at Eveline House. What secrets are hidden in the shadows? What stories are secreted away in the annals of the past?
The Secret of Eveline House is a book that completely surprised me. I was intrigued by the mystery and quite shocked by the discoveries that were slowly revealed. Sheila Forsey very subtly provides clues drip-feeding the story of Eveline House to the reader, completely capturing the attention. This is a book that is full of beautiful imagery with gorgeous descriptions of the glamour of Violet Ward and the scent and colours of the surrounding area, but it is also a threatening, suspenseful read, leaving the reader in no doubt that there is a mystery to be unveiled.
The Secret of Eveline House is a novel that completely captivates. It paints a very vivid picture of a time in Ireland when life moved in a very different fashion and at a very different pace. Society has moved on, attitudes have changed but memories are very long. Most certainly a book for all who are fans of Daphne du Maurier, The Secret of Eveline House is full of mystery, intrigue and suspense with some wonderfully depicted characters and a stunning descriptive narrative.
‘She stepped into the rear garden. It was completely wild but was surrounded by a stone wall with a wild white rose rambling across it. The garden had a clear view of the Wicklow Mountains. A pink rhododendron was in full bloom and wisteria wrapped itself around the back of the house. The smell of violets filled the air. She was sold in that moment….Her instinct was that this was the house. She knew she had utterly fallen in love with Eveline House.’
[ Bio ]
Sheila Forsey’s childhood was filled with the legends, folklore and mysticism of Ireland’s intricate past. This instilled a deep connection to those who had gone before her and was a stepping stone for her into the world of writing. Ireland’s windswept coastline, rugged mountains, valleys and ever-changing sky inspire her writing.
Sheila is an honours graduate of Creative Writing at Maynooth University. She is the recipient of the literature bursary award from the Wexford County Council and Artlinks.
A deep love of drama led her to receive an all-Ireland best actress award from the Drama League of Ireland. She facilitates creative workshops throughout the county.
She lives with her husband and three children, close to the tapestry of the Wexford Coast,
Kilbride House her debut into historical fiction was published by Poolbeg June 2019. The Secret of Eveline House is due for release April 2nd 2020.
Twitter – @SheilaForsey