Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017
Diligent volunteer to carry out two months’
painstaking archival work for private library.
Board and lodging provided;
curiosity and imagination rewarded.
When Samuel Browne’s wife unexpectedly leaves him, his world crumbles — until he spies this job advert hidden between the pages of a second-hand book. It leads him deep into the English countryside, to a new job in a cold and ancient house.
Sam must find a lost letter, hidden in a library of eighteen thousand books. As he sets to work under the watchful eyes of the house’s eccentric inhabitants, he soon realises that this is not the only mystery that this strange, seductive place holds …
'A bibliophile’s delight, a mystery, a tease, a frisson of dread, a fugue, a literary detective story, a philosophical fable - its imagination exquisitely calibrated to a gentle Gothicism where Bach, Coleridge, Thomas Chatterton and Edgar Allan Poe flit among the shades. Thomas Maloney’s perfectly-judged story, with its vital and resonant sense of place, will surely become one of the beloved arcana of English fiction.'
Jim Perrin, author of West: A Journey Through the Landscapes of Loss
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'An ingenious and atmospheric first novel, inspired by the discovery of a mysterious library lost deep in the English countryside, and vibrating with the literary and musical echoes of late Romanticism, and lots of weather.’
Richard Holmes, author of Coleridge and The Age of Wonder
‘An exceptional first novel – intelligent, intriguing, wonderfully written, and rich with an atmosphere and sense of place that make it a joy to read.’
James Wilson, author of The Summer of Broken Stories
'A very unusual book, at once a trickster tale and a commentary on the canonical texts of Romanticism.'
Joanne Limburg, author of A Want of Kindness
‘An atmospheric novel sprinkled with literary and musical allusion.’
Cameron Woodhead, Sydney Morning Herald
‘Beautiful … An intriguing gothic mystery.’
Fanny Blake, Daily Mail
‘A literary hall of mirrors with echoes and ripples running through it.’