About The Book
Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition.
Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder.
Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself.
A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever.
One woman, one house, one hundred years.
Tall Chimneys is a lovely family saga telling the tale of Evelyn Talbot, the youngest of a brood of children who was a later in life surprise for her parents. Born in the early part of the 20th Century this novel follows her life and her bond to the family home, Tall Chimneys.
Evelyn is a very interesting protagonist, she is a little Jane Eyre-esque in some ways – she is unwanted and is passed from pillar to post. Sent to live with one of her sisters and then on to boarding school she has a fraught relationship with her parents and only returns to yorkshire and Tall Chimneys once they have died. What follows is the story of a woman who becomes inextricably linked to her home and the events that take place within it.
I really enjoyed the historical aspects of this novel, it spans some key times in history – both the First and Second World Wars, the rise of fascism across Europe, the abdication of Edward VIII and the political scheming that goes on behind the scenes. The impact of these events on the village near Tall Chimneys is well described and very affecting. Allie Cresswell uses a clever technique to subtly show how the first world war effected the country through her use of a character who is irrevocably changed by his experiences. I liked reading about these key points in history, Neville Chamberlain’s visit and the reasons for it creates real intrigue and drama for instance.
Tall Chimneys is also a book about feminism, the role of women and their freedom. The 20th Century, particularly the early part of it, was a turning point for the social and political equality of women however Evelyn’s life is defined by the men within it. Her brothers who own Tall Chimneys, Sylvester the estate manager turned political machiavellian, her lover John and her friend and ally Kenneth are the people who determine what her future holds. She is physically and emotionally capable but is financially dependent on men which makes her options incredibly narrow.
Evelyn is a product of her time and being in an unorthodox relationship makes her ashamed and convinced that she will be cast out of society. She stays within the safety of Tall Chimneys, refusing to broaden her horizons due to the worry she will be looked down up and because Tall Chimneys has a hold over her – she is loyal to it and feels responsible for it. Her concerns that she will be branded a harlot were very strange to me – as a woman in her mid 30s in the early 21st Century I found her viewpoint and thought process incredibly interesting to read. I loved this juxtaposition of the modern versus the traditional views of quite recent history.
Tall Chimneys is a wonderful read that is a beautifully written and well-paced saga and there are moments of real joy and others of real sadness and everything else in between. I loved reading about Evelyn’s life and that of Tall Chimneys – this is a book which is packed full of detail and perceptive descriptions of life.
About The Author
Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.
She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.
She has two grown-up children, one granddaughter and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.
Tall Chimneys is the sixth of her novels to be published.
I am thrilled to be one of today’s stops for the Blog Tour for Tall Chimneys today, many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for a copy of the book in return for an honest review. Tall Chimneys was published on the 12th December and can be bought here.
Make sure you check out the other stops on the Blog Tour, details can be found beneath.