The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons

It's the spring of 1938 and no longer safe to be a Jew in Vienna. Nineteen-year-old Elise Landau is forced to leave her glittering life of parties and champagne to become a parlor maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay, where servants polish silver and serve drinks on the lawn. But war is coming, and the world is changing. When the master of Tyneford's young son, Kit, returns home, he and Elise strike up an unlikely friendship that will transform Tyneford-and Elise-forever.

Visit Natasha Solomon's official website, and check out the transcript from our April 26th Twitter discussion with her below! Make sure to follow the Jewish Book Council ( @jewishbook) and search #JBCBooks to follow the conversation!


@jewishbook: Hello Twitter Book Club World, and welcome @natashasolomons - thanks for joining us to discuss The House at Tyneford! #jbcbooks

@natashasolomons@JewishBook Thanks! I'm here with my cup of tea to answer questions. #jbcbooks 
 
@jewishbook: .@natashasolomons Ah so British, we love it! We are here with our watery American coffee, rearin' to go! #jbcbooks 
 
@natashasolomons : .@JewishBook I hope you're having better weather than us. It's flooding here in Darkest Dorset. #jbcbooks 
 
@JewishBook@natashasolomons ahh, flooding. makes for good writing weather though, no? a dark broody english novel #jbcbooks #janeeyre 

@JewishBook.@natashasolomons let's kick off! were you inspired by any one particular story when you began conceive of this novel? #jbcbooks 
 
 @natashasolomons: .@JewishBook I read an article about women coming from Europe on domestic service visas -- swapping luxury for the cap and apron. #jbcbooks 
 
@natashasolomons: .@JewishBook IT was those real-life cinderella stories that inspired me. #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons@JewishBook I also wanted to write about the ghost village of Tyneham on the Dorset coast. #jbcbooks 
 
@BookGal102.@natashasolomons Did most of these women end up surviving? #JBCBooks 
  
@natashasolomons@BookGal102 The women who came to England, did yes. But they often left entire families behind. #jbcbooks 

@nycbook.@natashasolomons how common was that? were there just a handful of these women or was it a known thing? #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons@nycbook A significant proportion of refugees to England came across on this domestic service visa. #jbcbooks 

@nycbook.@natashasolomons how common was that? were there just a handful of these women or was it a known thing? #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons@nycbook I interviewed quite a few of them -- one lady had never put on her own stockings before arriving in the
 UK. #jbcbooks 

@BookGal102.@natashasolomons Did these women end up mostly integrating into British society? #JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons@BookGal102 That's a big question! Depended on the individual. My great aunt Gabi did -- though never lost her accent. #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomonsThe domestic service visa scheme is a dark part of the UK past -- the government wanted to plug a hole in the servant shortage #jbcbooks 

@JewishBook.@natashasolomons and were the relationships w/ their employers at all different because of the background of the girls? #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@JewishBook Not really. And just because an employer was Jewish themselves sadly didn't always make them more sympathetic#jbcbooks 

@NaomiFirestone.@natashasolomons and with regards to changes in service/class, what kind of changes were there between the 2 world wars?#JBCBooks 

@NaomiFirestone.@natashasolomons Our only other big reference has been #Downton! :) #JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons@NaomiFirestone And these women experienced life both as Lady Mary and as Anna! (Downton can be v useful!) #jbcbooks 

@MiriPomerantzD.@natashasolomons but it seems like it helped people...why is it considered a dark spot? because of the ulterior motives? #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@MiriPomerantzD government could have done more to help. Only allowed visa scheme as it filled a gap in the market for servants.#jbcbooks 

@NaomiFirestone.@natashasolomons and with regards to changes in service/class, what kind of changes were there between the 2 world wars?#JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons: .@NaomiFirestone There was a change between wars -- many women left service to go into the factories and didn't want to go back.#jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@NaomiFirestone There was much more freedom being a factory girl than a servant. #jbcbooks 

@BookGal102: .@natashasolomons & now a very important q: Was the novel blank? If so, why? What was the meaning behind this for you? #JBCBooks 

@erikadreifus: .@bookgal102 Very important question! Wondering the same. (Apologies for dropping in late--multitasking here ;-)) #JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons: .@BookGal102 Spoiler alert! Does the novel unwrite itself at the moment of Anna's death? Is it the salt? Or... #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@BookGal102 ... does Julian know that no writer can resist a blank page. This way Elise/ Alice must writer her own story. #jbcbooks 

@erikadreifus: .@natashasolomons So you intended for the reader to wonder/be unsure? #JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons: .@erikadreifus I like there being various possibilites. Elise/ Alice considers them all -- but the book is a palimpsest....#jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@erikadreifus ... the novel in the viola is empty but it's also the novel we've just read. #jbcbooks 

@MiriPomerantzD.@natashasolomons but it seems like it helped people...why is it considered a dark spot? because of the ulterior motives? #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@MiriPomerantzD government could have done more to help. Only allowed visa scheme as it filled a gap in the market for servants. #jbcbooks 

@JewishBook.@natashasolomons oh right, alice! we were a bit surprised she accepted the name change. was that admitting defeat? #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@JewishBook I don't think so. I think it's a story about a woman who becomes someone else. And Alice is free to love Daniel. #jbcbooks 

@erikadreifus: .@NatashaSolomons You handle setting so beautifully (in both of your novels). Any craft tips to recommend to other writers? #JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons: .@erikadreifus Thanks! And the answer is tea... I write about the landscape I love. I go for a walk, look about and then write. #jbcbooks 

@JewishBook.@natashasolomons Speaking of writing over a story (in a sense), did you ever consider having Kit show up again? ... #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@JewishBook No. I wanted it to be clear that he's vanished. It's a book about silence. People disappear leaving silence #jbcbooks 

@NaomiFirestone: .@natashasolomons What were you suggesting by making Elise's big scandalous moment dressing as a man at the party? #JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons: .@NaomiFirestone Elise never fits in -- she's neither upstairs nor down. Servants mustn't shock. #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@NaomiFirestone I came across a couple of examples of this and it was shocking in conservative, old fashioned society. #jbcbooks 

@nycbook.@natashasolomons Did you know all along that Elise was meant for Mr. Rivers? Or, did that develop for you with the plot? #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons@nycbook I've always fancied Mr Rivers. But Kit is first love... I wanted this to be about first love and second. #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@nycbook And out of grief and loss there can be hope. I like that the affair with Mr Rivers is slightly transgressive. #jbcbooks 

@JewishBook: .@natashasolomons @nycbook Although she did see Mr Rivers first ... ;) #JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons: .@JewishBook @nycbook Yes, but she doesn't love him first... (she thinks at that point 40 is a bit old...she's still very young!) #jbcbooks 

@JewishBook.@natashasolomons r there any repeat questions you get from readers about this novel or about you that you wouldn’t mind sharing? #JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons: .@JewishBook People always want to know whether Elise is based on someone in my family. #jbcbooks

@BookGal102.@natashasolomons It's your great-aunt right? #JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons: .@JewishBook I found out after writing the book that my great aunt Gabi came to England as a servant. #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@JewishBook I incorporated some of those details into the book. I must have known and forgotten - the coincidence is too great.#jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons: .@JewishBook On a book tour in Oz I met with a cousin who told me. It was a strange midnight hotel meeting. #jbcbooks 

@JewishBook.@natashasolomons an amazing coincidence or twist of fate! and a great note to wrap things up on :) #jbcbooks 

@BookGal102.@natashasolomons Love listening to the waltz on your website http://www.natashasolomons.com/ #JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons: .@BookGal102 THanks! It's by @jeffrona #jbcbooks 

@JewishBookThanks to @natashasolomons@erikadreifus@NaomiFirestone,@PlumeBooks and everyone for participating! #jbcbooks 

@erikadreifus@jewishbook @natashasolomons Thank you for an informative chat!#JBCBooks 

@natashasolomons: .@erikadreifus @jewishbook Pleasure! Thanks for having me. Contact me via my blog if you have more questions. #jbcbooks 

@natashasolomons@JewishBook It's http://www.natashasolomons.com And I try to answer questions promptly (between tea and cake) #jbcbooks