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9 novels in which the house is more than just a setting

We're delighted to welcome Kate Morton, bestselling author of Homecoming, to share her top picks for stories where fictional houses have as much personality as the individuals who live in them.

Kate Morton, author

"I adore houses. I love them architecturally and aesthetically, but also as places where human beings lead their lives – repositories of memories, homes. My devotion extends to fictional houses, too. Every novel that I’ve written has a house at its heart and, as a reader, the books I remember as vividly and viscerally as if they’re places I have visited rather than simply stories I've read, are those in which the central house lives and breathes every bit as much as the characters who inhabit it." Kate Morton

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

A modern fairy tale about home, family, and love, in which the past haunts the present as two siblings remember their childhood in (and banishment from) the lavish "Dutch House".

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

At Misselthwaite Manor, an orphan discovers an overgrown walled garden, and so begins a story of second chances, in which the fates of a character and her setting become one.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Thornfield Hall is a house with a deep dark secret, but perhaps the most fascinating house of all is the real-life Brontë residence, nestled beside a small graveyard in Haworth.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

In 1947, Dr Faraday attends the declining Hundreds Hall – a coveted symbol of his childhood, where his mother was once in service – to find the owners challenged by strange events.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

A young woman discovers that her new husband and his grand Cornish house, Manderley (inspired by the real-life Menabilly), are both haunted by his former wife.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

After suffering separate catastrophes, two families – the Pickles and the Lambs – take up residence on opposite sides of a big old house called Cloudstreet in Perth, Australia.

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Jilted on her wedding morning, Miss Havisham shuts herself inside Satis House, stops the clocks, refuses to remove her wedding dress, and lets the house fall into decay as she focuses on revenge.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

Centred on two summers, thirty years apart, Black Rabbit Hall is a tale of tangled family secrets hidden in the walls of an ivy-clad Cornish manor.

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

Howards End by E.M. Forster

Based on Forster's beloved childhood home, Rooks Nest, the eponymous house in Howards End (described with affectionate detail in the novel’s opening paragraphs) casts a spell and connects three disparate families.

Howards End by E.M. Forster
Homecoming by Kate Morton

About Homecoming by Kate Morton

Adelaide Hills, Christmas Eve, 1959. At the end of a scorching hot day in the grounds of a grand and mysterious mansion, a local delivery man makes a terrible discovery - embroiling the small town of Tambilla in one of the most shocking and perplexing murder cases of South Australian history.

Sixty years later, Jess is a journalist in search of a story, when a phone call out of nowhere summons her back to Sydney, where her beloved grandmother has suffered a fall and been raced to hospital.

At a loose end in Nora’s house, Jess discovers a book chronicling the police investigation into a long-buried tragedy: the Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve, 1959. It is only when Jess skims through the book that she finds a shocking connection between her own family and this once-infamous crime that has never been truly solved...

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