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The Valentine House

Emma Henderson

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

From the Orange Prize shortlisted author of GRACE WILLIAMS SAYS IT LOUD, an entrancing novel about a young French girl and the English family who invade her Alpine village and her life.

'Henderson's Grace Williams Says It Loud was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and this more than matches it.'
Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail

In June 1914, Sir Anthony Valentine, a keen mountaineer, arrives with his family to spend the summer in their chalet, high in the French Alps. There, for the first time, fourteen-year-old foundling Mathilde starts work as one of the 'uglies' - village girls employed as servants and picked, it is believed, to ensure they don't catch Sir Anthony's roving eye.

For Mathilde it is the start of a life-long entanglement with les anglais - strange, exciting people, far removed from the hard grind of farming. Except she soon finds the Valentines are less carefree than they appear, with a curiously absent daughter no one talks about. It will be decades - disrupted by war, accidents and a cruel betrayal - before Mathilde discovers the key to the mystery. And in 1976, the year Sir Anthony's great-great grandson comes to visit, she must decide whether to use it.

Vividly evoking the dramatic landscape that so enthrals the Valentines, this deeply involving, intriguing novel tells the story of an English family through the generations and a memorable French woman, whose lives seem worlds apart yet which become inextricably connected.

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Praise for The Valentine House

  • Engrossing - Boundless

  • A lively, complex novel, and Mathilde is a splendid character - Mail on Sunday

  • A beautifully written, tender book, which rewards patient reading. - The Times

  • I was totally seduced by this vivid, complex and enthralling novel - Woman & Home

  • Henderson's Grace Williams Says It Loud was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and this more than matches it. Gripping and poignant, it is also a passionate love letter to a landscape that has captivated the author - Daily Mail

  • An intriguing tale of two cultures - France Magazine

  • This poetic and nuanced novel expertly reveals the complexity of Mathilde's relationship with the glamorous yet troubled family that has fuelled her feelings of exclusion yet fired her imagination . . . [a work] of illuminating beauty - Financial Times

  • I love her writing! I totally loved Grace Williams Says It Loud. The Valentine House is another compulsive, original read told with a delicious wit, while remaining harsh and mysteriously life-affirming. How does she do it? - Helen Lederer

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Emma Henderson

Emma Henderson was educated at Godolphin and Latymer School, London, Somerville College, Oxford and Yale University, Connecticut. She wrote blurbs for Penguin books for two years, then spent a decade teaching English in comprehensive schools and further education colleges, before moving to the French Alps where, for six years, she ran a ski and snowboard lodge. She now lives in Derbyshire and is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Keele University. GRACE WILLIAMS SAYS IT LOUD was her first novel. The Valentine House is her second novel.