the house of brides
“Atmospheric… clever… Cockram’s plot crackles with tension, hitting all the right notes for readers fond of gothic-flavored tales.” — Publishers Weekly
Jane Cockram makes her thrilling debut with this page-turning tale of psychological suspense in which a young woman whose life is in tatters flees to the safety of a family estate in England, but instead of comfort finds chilling secrets and lies.
Miranda Courtenay has seen better days. In the humiliating aftermath of a very public fall from grace as a lifestyle influencer, she has become accustomed to disappointing people. So when a distressed letter arrives from her twelve year-old cousin asking for help, her first instinct is to dismiss it. For one thing, the return address is Barnsley House, the English family estate immortalized in her mother’s bestselling memoir The House of Brides. For another, the letter is addressed to her mother, Tessa Summers, who has been dead for almost twenty years.
Since her mother’s death, Miranda’s only connection to Barnsley House has been through Tessa's famous book—a chronicle of the generations of women who married into the infamous Summer family. From Gertrude Summer, a famed crime novelist, to Miranda’s grandmother Beatrice, who killed herself after setting fire to Barnsley while her children slept, each woman in The House of Brides is more notorious than the last. The house’s current “bride” is the beautiful, effervescent Daphne, a celebrated celebrity chef whose success has saved Barnsley from ruin.
Miranda decides that a return to England might be an opportunity to escape the fallout at home, reconnect to her family, and possibly redeem herself in the process. But she arrives to a very different Barnsley House from the one portrayed in The House of Brides. The renowned hotel and restaurant are shuttered, and Daphne is nowhere to be found. Miranda is greeted by the forbidding housekeeper Mrs. Mins, and meets her aloof Uncle Max and his children, one of whom is in confined to a wheelchair after a mysterious accident. Not knowing who to trust, Miranda quickly realizes she must conceal her identity. And that she’s not the only one at Barnsley who is hiding something.
What happened in this house? Where is Daphne? And is Miranda destined to follow in the doomed path of the Summer women who came before her?
Jane Cockram was born and educated in Australia. She worked in sales for Pan Macmillan Publishers and then as fiction buyer at Borders, fulfilling a childhood dream of reading for a living. Cockram spent a year living in the West Country of England, where The House of Brides is set, and still daydreams about returning. In the meantime, she resides in Melbourne with her husband and two children. The House of Brides is her debut novel.
To be published by HarperCollins in October 2019.
More praise for The House of Brides:
“Jane Cockram captivates with her haunting debut The House of Brides. With echoes of Daphne du Maurier, it examines the inescapable ties of family and what happens when a complex tangle of secrets starts to unravel. Gripping, atmospheric and with an ending you won’t see coming, this book held me in its spell long after the final page. A sure-fire bestseller.” — Sally Hepworth, bestselling author of The Mother-in-Law
“An atmospheric and surprising debut… an ongoing theme of misdirection flows throughout, maintaining the tension and suspense."— Booklist