How can the mysterious disappearance of Anne Flint in 1816 and the drowning of a young girl in a chalk stream so long ago possibly affect the life of schoolteacher Harry Flint some two centuries later? Having left his job and with a failed marriage behind him, Harry begins to research his ancestors. The deeper he digs, the more he realises that the past is closer than he had ever imagined. The Haunting is a story of love and betrayal, intrigue and murder. Where people are not what they seem, and the past is no more predictable than the future.
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An absorbing and pleasing delight
The dual-time plot between present day (2010) and 1816 is woven deftly together. Whichever era you are immersed in holds the attention and leaves you keen to move forward and find out more about the fate of its characters. One quickly grows to care for the lives, encounters, hopes and dreams of our present day protagonist Harry Flint and the callow servant girl Anne Flint of 1816.
Reading the reviews and story summaries before purchasing this download I expected the connections between Harry Flint, who is investigating his family tree, and the 200 year old story which he must inevitably be connected to would be more pronounced but one is kept guessing as to how the lives of our two central characters will conjoin. One can independently enjoy the progress of each character's journey. For Anne, who relatively quickly finds herself in some peril, we appreciate the difficulties of a girl confined by her lowly rank and other harsh circumstances dictated by the social and cultural mores of her time. Harry's concerns are more pedestrian by comparison but one fast comes to want the best for him and hopes he will find happiness after a lacklustre short first marriage leaves his heart bruised.
I believe Titchmarsh is well-read - certainly the quotations he reads at the start of each chapter suggest a capacious, personal breadth of reading material under his belt. And it seems he may have a particular soft-spot for 19th century classics as there is an enjoyably reminiscent whiff of Dickensian characterisation amongst a few less savoury types Anne encounters as well as a brief scene with Jane Eyre undertones. None of this is to say that such features are weak derivatives; one simply feels that Titchmarsh wants to share with his reader echoes of things that have given him pleasure, whether this is the subtlest whiff of homage to certain classic novels, or the way his characters appreciate plants, nature or a particular historical treasure held in Winchester cathedral. Such insertions are not clumsily dropped in extras, rather they enhance plot, characters, or both.
I have listened to a number of Alan Titchmarsh's novels. I have enjoyed them all and I love his narration - it has a personal soothing reminder of Winnie the Pooh audiobooks I used to love as a child. But beyond this adjectives like 'gentle, warm and undemanding' which are used to describe this and other Titchmarsh works, are certainly apt, however, they should not be confused for suggesting a work that is boring or staid.
The present day is drawn well and though the language of the seven year old child may be a bit inaccurate it is neither grating nor problematic. I looked forward to nightly listens of The Haunting and had to be strict with myself to switch off.
In my opinion it is one of his best works and is as satisfying as the very best easy-watch, pleasing Sunday night TV.
The haunting element, which isn't really my cup of tea, was not overblown or too "weirdy-woo".
All in all a lovely book and one which I'm sad to have finished. More please Mr Titchmarsh and make sure you read them and that they go on audible.
- Miss M
this is a story set in two time periods 1815-16 and 2009-2010
the two stories were perfectly balanced. ann a scullery maid dreaming of becoming a ladys maid and harry a history teacher in 2010 who tells his class that the past has a bearing on the present not realising how true this would become for him.
well drawn characters and story which kept me engrossed through to the end.
enjoyed alan titchmarsh's performance of his own book. recommend.
I will try another of his books in the future.
- Mrs. K. I. Richards