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.
©2011 Alan Titchmarsh (P)2012 Hodder & Stoughton
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.
I loved this book, did'nt want to stop listening to it and it was made even better by Alan Titchmarsh reading it.
Alan Tichmarch has a very easy to listen to voice, even when creating other charter voices.
oh yes, they are all excellent.
A nice story, easy on the ear and I like Alan Titchmarsh narrating his own story, I was pleasantly surprised.
I found this story very slow going and had to keep putting it down, but after 10 chapters or so, got into the story and then could not put it down.
It does go back and forth a lot in the dates and you have to keep up with it, I kept going back a chapter.
I love Alan Titchmarsh and have read all his books, also watch his TV shows and love him on them also, but found his voice reading the story, did put me to sleep! many a night I fell asleep and woke up next morning at the end of the story !!
Would I listen to him again reading a story, not sure.. Sorry Alan.
I have read all Alan Titchmarsh novels and each is very different in its own way .
Never has he written one quite like this and initially as I started to listen I thought it would be difficult to keep up with the past and present switches with each chapter.As the story unfolds this was easy even if I only managed to snatch short bursts of listening time. The story is inviting and it slowly unfolds and delivers a good end. The characters are easy to be acquainted with and the book evokes emotions and allows you to imagine you are their in the characters place experiencing the life of the servant girl striving for a better life
More unabridged Alan Titchmarsh titles please! He has such a lovely way of writing (and reading for that matter) that easily takes you in your mind straight to where and when he is writing about and describing so well. As he reads the story, your imagination whisks you away to the year 1816 one moment and brings you hurtling back to present day for the next chapter.
You follow the goings on of Anne Flint in 1816, a housemaid in the Manor House dreaming of being lifted to her ambitious position of Lady's Maid whilst cleaning the grates, and of Harry Flint in 2010, a school master at a school in Winchester who not only teaches History but has a true passion for the subject (as do I).
The fact that this book is read by the author himself and also that it is unabridged, meaning you miss out on nothing at all, is fantastic. I wish there were more unabridged Alan Titchmarsh titles to download. I'd buy the lot!
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Love the characters and plot lines. Also love the fact he narrates his books himself.
Usually books moving from one era to another annoy me but this one worked really well.I would highly recommend this or any of his titles. Easy and calming to listen to as well.
I wasn't sure about this at first but I'm glad I gave it a go even if the author's familiar voice doing the reading is a little bit of a distraction. The story jumps between the present day and an early nineteenth century setting but the characters are clearly defined, so it's easy to keep track. My one grouse is that each chapter heading has a quote, which slows the action rather. The plot is a little predictable but overall it's a well-written and enjoyable listen.
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