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The Shadow Year

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,270 ratings  ·  495 reviews
Still grieving the death of her prematurely delivered infant, Lila finds a welcome distraction in renovating a country house she's recently inherited. Surrounded by blueprints and plaster dust, though, she finds herself drawn into the story of a group of idealistic university grads from thirty years before, who'd thrown off the shackles of bourgeois city life to claim the ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Grand Central Publishing (first published April 30th 2013)
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Amanda No, I don't think they ever said anyone's last name except for William's. hmmm

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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The Shadow Year had me at the cover - the words beneath the beautifully presented title might have been written specifically to appeal to my tastes. 'Five friends. An abandoned house. A secret they can't bury'... SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

In the present day, Lila is struggling to recover from the aftermath of the death of her premature baby. When she is mysteriously bequeathed a cottage and plot of land in the Peak District, a part of the country she's never even visited, she is naturally
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn’t decide whether to round this up or round it down so I just went ahead and rounded it up to five stars! I loved this book. It reeled me in slowly to start and by about 100 pages in I was completely mesmerized. The writing is beautiful and vivid. You know when you are reading a book and the writing is so descriptive that when you look up from the book you have to pause a minute to think about where you are? That’s this book. I wanted to talk about it all the way through. I felt all the ...more
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story begins with Lila who receives an envelope from a solicitors firm. The envelope contains a heavy silver key and a map of the Peak District area. It's a mystery to both her and her husband Tom as to who would be leaving this to her and why.
Lila's father has passed away recently and Tom suggests it might've come from his estate. But this was all finalised weeks ago so it's not from her father and Lila is not familiar with the Peak District area.
Not only is Lila still grieving for her
Charlotte Nash
I want to review in two parts, because I need to be fair.

First part - this is brilliantly and emotionally written; it captures the subjects and their turmoils, the foibles some humans have that are so refractory to change (Kat and Simon both in their own way are these things). The plot is cleverly connected - I picked all the points and guessed all the reveals, but in a satisfying way because it was subtle enough for me to do that and still be rewarded when I was right. If you are a fan of the
Lila received a letter from a solicitor’s firm, stating she had been left a cottage deep in the English countryside, but the benefactor was anonymous. Her father had recently passed away, but there was nothing in his will to explain this, plus his law-firm declared it was not her dad’s legacy. She and husband Tom were extremely puzzled, but decided to visit this cottage as soon as they could, to investigate. Lila was getting over a terrible accident and was extremely depressed plus hers and Toms ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
DNF after around 265 pages. This is a book that I should have quite right from the beginning. I just couldn't get into the story. But, I was tenacious and decided that I would not quite. But, then I started to really loathe Kate and not even Lila's storyline worked for me in the end. This book was just not for me...
Dale Harcombe
I read and loved Hannah Richell’s first book and so had been looking forward to this one immensely. Perhaps that was part of the problem.
Again it is another story set in two times frames with a link that binds them together. After the death of their baby girl, Lila receives a letter from a solicitor. It turns out she has been left the key to a rundown cottage in the Peak District. Lila takes refuge in the cottage leaving her husband to fend for himself. While at times I didn't understand the
Kate Forsyth
I loved this book! One of the best reads of the year so far. I've interviewed Hannah for the next issue of Good Reading Magazine so I urge you to hunt down the mag and read more about it there - I will just say that this is a perfectly structured and beautifully written novel which uses parallel narratives to stunning effect. A compelling and suspenseful novel about family, love, and loss.
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five friends stumble upon a remote cottage and decide to stay and live there. 30 years later Lila arrives at the same cottage after being sent a key by an anonymous person. Who sent the key and which secrets does the cottage hide?

This book is one of the best books I have ever read. The suspense that the author creates is amazing and nail biting. I was drawn to the story from the first few pages onwards.

Life at the cottage is brilliantly described. From the beauty of the surroundings during the
At times I thought this was going to be predictable, and while there were some aspects which I did guess, there were others which kept me guessing or took a twist I hadn’t expected.

It followed the story of a group of young university graduates who decide to drop out of mainstream life and live in a ramshackle shed for a year, gathering food where they can, as well as the story of a young woman grieving the loss of her baby about 30 years later who ends up at the same ramshackle shed. The story
Katherine Webb
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although this book was a bit of a slow starter for me, once it got a hold it didn't let go, right to the very end. It is very atmospheric, and full of beautiful descriptions of the landscape and the seasons, but what really stands out is the portrayal of all the tangled human relationships within the story - the way in which people can let their emotions cloud their better judgement, and how failures of communication can ruin lives. These portrayals are extremely well done. I did guess the ...more
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For some reasons, I really enjoyed this book. Probably most of us have toyed with the idea of spending let's say not a year , but at least several days in a recluse cabin in mountains , reconnecting with nature and our souls. The allusions to Thoreau's book Walden are more or less obvious ( Simon seems to be quoting Thoreau himself when he pleads and persuades the others to join him in the one-year experiment of living in a stone cottage by a lake in the English countryside). The reader is ...more
It's summer 1980 and a group of five close friends are graduating college with no particularly exciting prospects ahead of them. After they discover a hidden lake with an old, decrepit cottage on its property, Simon sets a plan in motion: for 12 months, they'll create a little commune and try their hand at living off the land. It's very romantic. They'll have time to read and write and play guitar, they'll grow marijuana and brew their own beer, they'll stay up late smoking cigarettes and ...more
Rating: 4.5 stars

It's 1980, and five friends recently graduated from university stumble across an old empty lakeside cottage in the middle of nowhere. Seizing the chance of the perfect escapist gap year, they move in, living off the land and indulging in the long hot summer days and nights, but as the harshness of winter creeps in, relationships change, jealousies and resentments bubble to the surface, and tragedy isn't far away.

In the present day, Lila receives an anonymous bequest - the keys
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dual time lines carry the story in The Shadow Year, from the 1980s to the present.

In the 1980s, we watch a group of post-graduate students try an experimental living arrangement in an old abandoned cottage in the Peaks District, outside of London. Kat, Mac, Ben, and Carla each have their own issues, but are willing to follow along for a while. Simon takes the leadership role, but will his quest for power ruin their efforts? As tensions, hunger, and power struggles take over, we see how this “
Liz Barnsley
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all thank you kindly to Hannah Richell and Orion for arranging a review copy of this book when I added it to my wishlist. I was very grateful as it had really caught my eye. And rightly so it turns out...

1980. Five friends, not quite ready to embark on life in the fast lane having finished University, come across an old cottage in the Peak District and decide to "drop out" for a year and live from the land in isolation. Looking forward to a relaxing carefree lifestyle, at first it is
B the BookAddict
May 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: myself :(
Shelves: aussie-author
I was a bit disappointed with this book. I had enjoyed the author's debut novel Secrets of the Tides and expected more of the same.
The following is my first review and the comments are in my opinion only.

There are two distinct stories in this novel which centres around a cottage in the Peak District in England. In 1980, five college housemates 'stumble' upon it on a hot summer's day and decide to use it as a place to drop out of conventional society for a year. They become self-sufficient,
Favorite Quotes:

“If she’s going to be murdered in a random cottage in the middle of nowhere, she might as well be in a vaguely comatose state when it happens”

“She stares out over the lake and shivers. She just can’t seem to shake the feeling that the old place is trying to tell her something. It’s probably exhaustion, she thinks, but out here, all by herself, a person could definitely go a little crazy”

“Outside in the daylight, in the brisk fresh air, her nightmares fade away. It’s always the
After falling in love with Hannah Richell after Secrets of the Tides I thought how can this lady go wrong? The Shadow Year wasn't as good as I was expecting however. I think the only reason I think this (and this is just a personal thing) is because one of our main characters is my absolute pet peeve of a character. If ever there was a character I need to punch in the face, it's Kat. He doesn't love you. Realise it and accept it. Please. Other than that though I did really like it. I loved Lila, ...more
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
This is a dark & emotional novel.

Despite being written as two alternating stories, it was easy to follow & not confusing like some novels written in this style. I found I connected with some of the characters well too.

The idea of a few people moving into a house in the country, living off the land & fending for themselves really appealed to me.

My main reason for this being 4 stars instead of 5, is because I worked out most of the twists or revelations a while before each one was
Dec 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This book was a goodreads-algorithm-generated recommendation for me. I don't click on all of those, but I did on this one, and when I did, I noticed that the official tagline for the book was "Five friends. An abandoned house. A secret they can't bury." The superficial resemblance of that description to one element of my Most Beloved Book, Tana French's The Likeness , was so uncanny that I laughed really hard about how the goodreads algorithm could pooooooossibly have thought I might be ...more
Unfortunately, you can't give half stars on GoodReads, otherwise I would probably have rated this 3.5/5.

This book features two timelines, which eventually connect. In 1980, five friends fresh out of university, find an abandoned old cottage in the Peak District, and decide to stay there for a year, living off the land, and being self-sufficient. The group includes Kat, an insecure young woman who is hopelessly in love with another of the group, Simon, a charismatic but arrogant young man, who
Karen McMillan
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a beautifully written novel that alternates between two stories. In the current day Lila and her husband Tom are struggling in their relationship after losing their first child after Lila fell down some stairs while pregnant. She can’t remember what happened when she fell but is nagged by the suspicion that there is more to it than meets the eye, even though she is crippled by guilt. She inherits a cottage in the English countryside from an anonymous benefactor. After visiting it, she ...more
Simone Sinna
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

What is it about so many good thriller writers that never get on the best seller list? Read about this one in the Age review; they clearly liked her first book better, described the dialogues in this one as something like mundane to excruciating and described by the publisher as “easy to read” but concluded the end was worth the read.
So I walked into a book store (yes they still exist and I want to support them, though am being sucked in by the practicalities of Amazon, and am about to get my
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm sorry. My review right now will lack substance, I'm still too upset, annoyed and angry about this story and my time spent reading it. It's depressing, it's not suspenseful, it's not satisfying, it's frustrating and discouraging more so for a woman reading and while it isn't the worst thing in the world, I strongly recommend against reading this novel, unless you're going for bland, slow moving obvious disaster work little point.
Kim Wilkins
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This finely crafted novel is a breathtaking achievement for a writer so young. I was fully immersed in the characters' lives and feelings, and it was cinematic in scope and detail. It is so rare for me to read a book I love these days. I get bored or distracted so easily. But this one was incredibly well done, gripping me from start to finish. Reminded me a little bit of The Secret History, but very English and a little more accessible. Highly recommended.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: july-2018, abandoned
I really enjoyed Hannah Richell's debut novel, Secrets of the Tides, and jumped at the chance of receiving a review copy of The Shadow Year. This is blurbed as 'another mesmerising story of tragedy, lies and betrayal.'

In the novel, protagonist Lila Bailey receives a package 'out of the blue', which consists of a letter and a key. She has no idea who could have done such a thing, but someone has anonymously bequeathed her a 'remote lakeside cottage and the timing couldn't be better; with her
Helen White
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do like a dual narrative. In 1980 Kat and 4 uni friends decide to live in secret at an abandoned cottage by a lake, living off the land in some cross between the good life and lord of the flies. In contrast in present day Lila's marriage is falling apart after the loss.of their daughter. She is left a mysterious abandoned cottage by an anonymous benefactor.

You can see where the story is heading but it's well done. You are constantly waiting for it all to go wrong but you're not entirely sure
Arabicbeauty *BookBabe*
This novel was lovely. Even though its not a recently published novel this one was my favorite read this year. I loved following the path of past and present and how everything intertwined with each other. It had minor mystery that was easy to figure out but the storyline was so intriguing that it didn't even matter to me. A must read!!!
Aug 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
The Shadow Year works with past-present trope. Sometime in 1980, five young university graduates drop out of reality, settling for an almost commune-like existent beside a lake in the middle of nowhere. Thirty years later, a young woman named Lila ends up beside the same lake, haunted by her own demons.

Okay, now that we're done with the almost painful blurb, I'm going to go ahead with the things I really liked about the book. The writing, for starters. I finished the book in a matter of hours (
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Sep 26, 2015 11:48AM  
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Hannah Richell was born in Kent, England and spent her childhood years in Buckinghamshire and Canada. After graduating from the University of Nottingham in 1998 she worked in book publishing and film. Hannah began to write while pregnant with her first child. The result was Secrets of the Tides, picked for the 2012 Richard & Judy Book Club, the Waterstones Book Club and shortlisted for the ...more