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The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  392 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Stephanie Lam's stunning debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House, is a gripping read laced with mystery, secrets and love.

It's 1965 and eighteen year-old Rosie Churchill has run away to the beautiful but run-down Castaway House in the seaside town of Helmstone. But when she uncovers a scandal locked away in the walls of the old house, she soon comes to realise
Paperback, 512 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Penguin Books (UK)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
This book was literally middle of the road for me. I don't dislike it but I wouldn't say I liked it either. The story was ok. It had all the elements that I love: dual time lines, a house that contains mysteries, and characters that are driven by love & hate. It was just missing that certain "spark" that other books have. The writing wasn't terrible...... maybe it's just me. Just an ok read and if I'm honest, I was a little disappointed that I didn't love it like I was hoping. ...more
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Note: I received this copy of The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam for free through Goodreads First Reads. The opinions and thoughts I share in this review are my own.

I was delighted to receive this copy of The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House through the post as it was one which greatly appealed to me. I was shocked to discover on it's arrival that it is an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC), so I am not allowed to post any quotes from it - much as I may wish. At a little over 5
May 26, 2014 rated it liked it
This debut historical fiction novel uses the, perhaps, overused plot device of two dual time lines – in this case 1924 and 1965. The book revolves around Castaway House, which overlooks the sea in Helmstone. In 1965 it is young Rosie Churchill who has fled her home and education, despite being the most promising pupil in her class and about to take her A Level exams. Castaway House was once a beautiful house which dominated the town, but by the time Rosie arrives, it is a slightly run down board ...more
Visit the locations in the novel Travel to Castaway House

Oh how I enjoyed this book! Creepy and exciting at the same time and I just love books about old creaky houses with secrets to share. There’s just something about them. This house had many secrets and it was just a great way to immerse myself into a lovely old building from start to finish. I just wish Helmstone was real as I would really like to go there!

The star of the show was the one setting described and evoked so differently that was
Emily B
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A finely constructed, highly atmospheric mystery from a truely gifted storyteller.
I was swept away by "The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House". It was hugely enjoyable, surprising, with a bit of romance and all done with a tongue in cheek humour I absolutely adored. The book cleverly explores British cultural shifts between the 1920s and the 1960s through the eyes of contrasting yet equally intriguing characters, all living in the same fictional seaside town of Helmstone. The period details an
Sarah Freeman-langford
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Firstly I won a copy of this book via The Book Boutique's Facebook Page competition and very promptly received a pristine ARC copy of the book. So thank you to them for choosing me and I eagerly started to devour my copy. The book itself was a very well presented soft cover copy with a very satisfying 'floppiness' to it which felt good to handle. It also has an nicely beautiful cover which to me is always an attractive feature for any book.

Onto the review. The description on the back of the book
Laura Wilkinson
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Stephanie Lam’s The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House is an evocative, twisty narrative set across two timeframes. Vivid and brilliantly plotted it had me guessing till the very end. In 1960s Helmstone (a fictional town no doubt inspired by the author’s home town, Brighton) young Rosie Churchill has left home under a cloud and rents a room in dilapidated Castaway House. Here she finds a message scratched into the walls – Robert Carver is innocent – and uncovers a long buried scandal. In 1924 R ...more
Cleopatra  Pullen
I do like it when a book lives up to its title so I pleased to report that there are a number of mysteries between the pages of this debut novel by Stephanie Lam.

This book uses the dual time line style of narrative with alternate chapters narrated by Rosie Churchill in 1965 and Robert Carver in 1924. Rosie is just 18 and has left home before finishing school to share a flat in Castaway House. When Rosie is given a picture of Robert (because they share the same initials) her interest is piqued an
Keita-Eiri Kettlewell-Scarbro
So! This is the first time I have written a proper review on goodreads and not on my wordy blogger blog. Regardless, I was honoured to win this book, "The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House" by Stephanie Lam, in a goodreads giveaway and I won't lie, when I read the back synopsis, I began to wonder why I entered said giveaway as it was not a typical book someone like me would take a gander with.

I take all of the latter back now upon completion of reading this first novel of Stephanie Lam's.

Of co
Aug 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads Giveaways
"The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House" by Stephanie Lam which I won through Goodreads Giveaways is an intriguing story spanning 1924 and 1965 and laced with scandal, tragedy and mystery. It begins when Rosie Churchill, running away from a secret, takes a room with two other girls at the dilapidated Castaway House near Helmstone. Struggling to put the past behind her and survive financially, Rosie's curiosity ignites when she finds not only an old pencil drawing of a man with the initials "R.C ...more
Megan  (thebookishtwins)
I received this free from the publisher via NetGalley

Actual Rating 2.5

Release date - August 28th

Rosie Churchill, in 1965, has moved out from her mother’s house, and left school and moved to Castaway House in a seaside town. But she finds clues to the houses past which uncovers a scandal which took place there. In 1925, Robert Carver is invited to stay at Castaway House over the summer by his cousin, Alec Bray, who owns the place. While there he grows close to his cousins wife and secrets are spi
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The star of this story is the house. Castaway House sits high above the seaside town of Helmstone, once a place of grandeur and beauty, the setting for wonderful parties, it is now, in 1965, quite run-down. It's shabby exterior hiding the fact that this old family home is now a warren of seedy little flats, inhabited by drifters and loners.

The dual-time narrative of this story works so very well. It is becoming more and more popular to write a novel in this way, and I do particularly enjoy the c
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I was very lucky to have been given a free ‘advance reading’ copy of this book free from ‘Goodreads First Reads’.

I found this book very interesting. The intertwining of the lives of those in two time periods was very thought provoking for me and the way they came together at the end made me want to start the next book and I felt sure that there was more to come, so I do hope that there is a second book or perhaps a trilogy. It certainly held my interest and drew me into the story. I would be de
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to receive this book from Goodreads and I'm very glad I did, as I became more and more engrossed in the lives of the various characters.

The setting is, as the title suggests, Castaway House, in the seaside town of Helmstone.

There are two stories running along side by side; one set in 1924 and the other in 1965. They move along independently, both periods being brought to life quite vividly,and both eventually converging in a somewhat surprising manner.

This is a very well writ
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting dual time period mystery.....but...was lacking something. This story had all the components I enjoy: dual time period, great characters, long held secrets it just didn't grab me. I'm not sure why. I finished this debut novel and will definitely look out for others by this author. ...more
Jan 12, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
I am so so tired of historical novels that go back and forth between time periods. The one I started after this is the same as well! It's so overdone. Please stop. ...more
Amy (Read.Dream.Live)
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I want to start by saying I won this Arc copy on Gooodreads a few years ago. Although I got it for free this review is still my own opinion.

I am ashamed to say I put it on my shelves and forgot about it. This is a huge shame because it turns out this book is amazing! The book alternates between 1924 and 1965, however both eras are set at Castaway House. In 1965 Rosie has left home and is trying to make it on her own. Sharing one of the rooms at Castaway lodger house she finds herself uncovering
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Original review can be found at

I received an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book alternates between Rosie Churchill in 1965 and Robert Carver in 1924. The common thread throughout both stories is Castaway House in the seaside town of Helmstone. Although the house is completely tranformed between stories there is a common thread that mysteriously links the two.

I really enjoyed both parts of th
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House is one of those cleverly controlled dual time novels which draws you into both times frames and very quickly the narrative starts to work its magic.

The book starts in 1965 when eighteen year old Rosie Churchill escapes to the seaside town of Helmstone and takes refuge in Castaway House, but this is a house with troubles and very soon Rosie gets drawn into the mystery of the past. Back in the 1920s, Castaway House is a very different place, and the devastat
Sep 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-to-read
I received a free copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book took me ages to read, I was reading other books at the same time, but this just dragged for me. The premise was good but the book was slow and every time I thought a secret was going to resolved, it was just put on hold. It was a long book for what happened it could have been shorter, and in my opinion, it would have been much better.

The story was fine but the secrets were not enough to hold my attention
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Mystery. Secrets. Tragedy. The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House is a stunning debut novel by Stephanie Lam.

They say never judge a book by it's cover but in this books case go ahead. The eerie Art Deco style is beautiful and relevant to the story.

The book is set in the seaside town of Helmstone. It is split between the time periods of 1924 and 1965 in alternate chapters. This style is often confusing however Stephanie Lam's writing ensures this intriguing story is seemless and draws you right
Will Hillier
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you want a compelling tale and a historical page turner, then this is for you. With a touch of Agatha Christie, and the charm of Sarah Waters, I'm impressed by the ease with which Stephanie Lam writes, particularly given this is her debut novel. Interestingly, I didn't start off liking the two main protagonists, but as the book progressed I found I was gunning for them both... I couldn't pinpoint the moment at which point I decided to like them, which I think further points to Lam's artful wr ...more
Emma Jones
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was absolutely delighted to receive this book through a Goodreads giveaway. It is beautifully written and captured my interest from the start. I really enjoyed the dual time frame and the characters were interesting and seemed very real. The book kept me guessing throughout, making it difficult to put down. I really like how the author showed a contrast between the 20s and 60s and how the story centres around a house in both time periods. This is the first book I have read from a character's p ...more
Erin L
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
The cover blurb for this sounded amazing and so suspenseful. I've read similar books by Kate Mosse and been absolutely entranced so I expected a lot from this.

I did not expect so much boredom. Page after page of stuff that I just didn't care about. I started with characters that interested me, but the more I turned the pages, the more that magic disappeared and they became flat and incredibly dull.

The weaving of the timelines from chapter to chapter resulted in a book where JUST when a story li
White Rabbit
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was looking for a good read to recommend for the book group I belong to and I couldn't resist the cover of The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House. Elegant and seductive, this novel didn't disappoint. I indulged myself the luxury of disappearing into the world Stephanie Lam conjured up so atmospherically.

As a book group choice it was brilliant and it threw up plenty to talk about. This is an additive read and I would love to see this novel on the big screen. I especially loved the character of
Verity W
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
***Won as part of a goodreads giveaway - but that doesn't influence my review***

I really enjoyed this debut novel from Stephanie Lam. Another timeslip novel (a bit of a theme in my reading at the moment!) this time set in the 1920s and the 1960s. I really liked both of the story lines which intertwined really pleasingly and (trying not to give too much of the plot away) Lam was confident enough not to spell everything out for you which I liked.

I'll be looking out for more from Stephanie Lam.
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite an unexpected find, I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. The characters are well developed and the back and forth time being in the20's and the 60's (vs. current day) was a nice change of pace. The story had some predictable threads that conveniently wove together at the end, but it was still an enjoyable read. ...more
Jean Driver
A really enjoyable read. Fast moving and sympathetic characters. I will look our for more novels from the same author.
nikkia neil
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes it's good not to read everything right when it came out! Loved the mysterious way we are not given all the info so we get to enjoy the uncovering that much more. ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great debut novel

This novel had everything I love about a story. Historical fiction, dual time frame and a big old house with secrets and mysteries. The story also has potential for a follow up novel depicting the lives of the main characters in the 40 years between the two time frames. Whether the author does so or not we will have to wait and see. Although I would definitely be interested in knowing what happened in between.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Mar 18, 2015 11:48AM  

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Stephanie Lam is a novelist, teacher and wellbeing journalist. She writes the popular Everyday Escape back page column for Breathe magazine on real-world ways to
achieve headspace and happiness, and for twenty years has also worked as a teacher alongside highly-stressed people held in immigration detention.

In 2015 a crisis transformed her life and forced her to rethink everything she thought she kn

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