Monday, 17 November 2014

Weekend at Owlpen Manor to meet Kate Riordan

A few weeks ago I received a DM from Jessica at Penguin Books UK to say that she had an exciting invitation for me and little did I know what was in store for me, a fabulous weekend away in the stunning Cotswolds countryside at Owlpen Manor which was the inspiration for Kate Riordan's new book The Girl in the Photograph.

When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton whose only traces remain in a few tantalisingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish? 

As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes ever more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph - and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth's . . .

On arrival I was met by another of the lovely ladies from Penguin, Sarah, and taken to the gorgeous cottage that I would be spending the night in to get settled before meeting up for lunch with the rest of the group, Jessica, Sarah, Kate and a few fellow bloggers and their guests (have to confess that I completely forgot to take a group photo of us all!).

Lunch was a nice relaxed informal affair, as was the whole weekend, which gave us the chance to get to know each other but especially gave us the chance to talk to Kate and ask her questions about her book and how the inspiration of setting it here came about (in the book the name of the Manor house is changed to Fiercombe).

After lunch we were then extremely privileged to be given a tour of the grounds and the manor house by the owner Sir Nicholas and if you ever get a chance to come visit this part of the country I would highly recommend it as it's a truly stunning location and perfect for a nice relaxed break

Then it was time for afternoon tea... yes it did seem that all we seemed to do this weekend was eat and talk books but then again what more could you want... which was in another of the stunning cottages that fellow bloggers Liz, Melissa & Elle were staying in although I didn't like walking over the glass panels that were on all 3 floors of the cottage!!

After coffee and cake it was then time for a few hours of relaxation in our own cottages before reconvening in the Cyder House for a scrumptious 3 course banquet... sorry I was too busy enjoying the company and food to take any photos but trust me the Chocolate and Salted Caramel tart was to die for...

Living in the middle of the city centre it never really seems that dark but the same could not be said for being out in the middle of the countryside... and although I'm not scared of the dark I did get a little freaked out in the middle of the night when I woke up to the shadow of these over my bed!

In the morning it was a chance for another chat with Kate over breakfast and to get her to sign our proof copies of her book before we had to say our goodbyes and make our way home.
Kate signing my proof copy
I'd like to say a massive thank you to Jessica, Sarah and Kate for the invitation for this country break and having now visited the area that was the inspiration for the book I cannot wait to get stuck in and finish reading it (read just over 100 pages whilst I was away this weekend).


  1. This looks fabulous, I'm glad you had such a great time!

  2. What a fantastic opportunity! I have this on my TBR pile too :)

  3. How lovely Sharon, it looks a beautiful place and I'm really pleased that you had a lovely time (you deserve it!) I really like the sound of Kate's book too. I love anything with mystery and it's my perfect setting too. Xxxx