I was delighted to have been asked to join Marianne’s launch team for THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL, book one in the RIVERDELL SAGA. Marianne’s book and lots of bookish gifts arrived in the post; I met the other fabulous book launch team and began a journey of book chats, bookish activities and new bookish friendships.
I’m delighted to share my final review of THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL and also a couple of the lovely photographs I’ve designed along the journey, do keep an eye out for the lovely bookish candle from Wordsmith Candles.
And, of course, please keep scrolling for some bookish chat about THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL…
The book blurb
Isabelle Threlfall has always called Riverdell House, in the historic rural town of Ludlow, her home. But home has its complications. There’s her Aunt Elsa angling for commitment, cousin Hester to avoid and the failure of her long-term relationship to face. Working away seems the best solution but when Elsa’s eldest son dies and her two estranged grandchildren, Moth and Nat, arrive at Riverdell, Isabelle is called home to help.
Kit de Lavelle is hard on her heels. He’s waited fifteen years for Isabelle to ditch her childhood sweetheart and adore him instead but he’s about to discover that closing the doors to his own past is harder than expected.
As Moth and Isabelle form a close bond trading family secrets and avoiding their own, Elsa finds courage in her memories to face the truth she has hidden from them all. But as the future is decided will Moth and Isabelle still be able to call Riverdell their home?
Step behind the gleaming doors of Riverdell and into the troubled waters of the family.
My thoughts: The Doors of Riverdell by Marianne Rosen
The Doors of Riverdell is told via four narrative perspectives, one rooted in the past and three more individual voices of Kit, Isabelle and Moth, who are our guides to life at Riverdell and beyond in this first book of a four part saga. This is one of those books where concentration is required, as, like most first meetings, the reader needs to adjust to timeframes, characters, and connections as we ease into Rosen’s world. I love the concept of storytelling through the setting of a real character house; Riverdell is one of those buildings that is meticulously designed for the reader and the idea of home is an important aspect of the novel and for its characters.
What is clear from the onset is that the cast of characters are very human: flawed, contradictory, unsure, overconfident, sluggish, uncertain, and questionable. The focus of this first book is on three characters in particular, the adrift Isabelle, the brash Kit, and the conflicted Moth. I would also keep in mind that this book is a narrative that runs across four books, and therefore so do the character arcs; there’s a lot of development during this first book that may not be fulfilling for the reader by the closing lines of this part of the saga.
It is also worth noting there are sexual scenes interspersed throughout the novel, and at first, I admit I found these rather jarring and stylistically slightly disjointing. From the blurb and style of the book, I was not expecting the tone and nature of some of the sexual encounters, both described and implied. However, on reflection I began to see Rosen’s intentions behind them; she is trying to be true to her characters’ natures and their behaviours with one another: their sexualities are an inbuilt and intrinsically human part of that.
Nature and environment are strong factors in the narrative and I really enjoyed the sense of place and setting throughout. The organic qualities of the nature world served as an indelible link to those living at Riverdell and connected their pasts, present and futures in beautifully detailed descriptions. This ingrained sense of nature in the book is superb and the author’s love of Ludlow is rooted solidly throughout.
With themes of community, self, family, sexuality, identity, the past’s hold on our futures, home, and connections – The Doors of Riverdell is an exciting start to a new literary saga. If you enjoy family dramas, I can certainly recommend you walk through both the literal and metaphorical doors of Riverdell in this first book of Rosen’s four-part series.
Marianne Rosen was apprenticed to a master upholsterer for six years before setting up her own interior consultation business, specialising in grand houses and fabrics. Along the way, she gained a degree in Literature, became an English language teacher, a semi-professional dancer and taught cabaret. By the time she was 36, she had lived in 36 houses, carting her large collection of books around with her. That same year, she met her partner, a fourth-generation farmer who lives in the house he was born in. They live on an organic farm in a Grade 2 listed farmhouse on the Shropshire-Herefordshire border. Marianne is part of the Hay Writers’ Group and has performed her work at Hay Festival. She writes modern family sagas that explore the longing for home and the need to belong. When not writing she likes to take off in her old VW T4 to research what she might write next. Her debut novel, The Doors of Riverdell, is out on 25th November 2020.