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The Stranger

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  294 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Cornwall, 1940.

In the hushed hours of the night a woman is taken by the sea.

Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in?

In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall.

Each is looking to escape her past.

But one of them is not there by choice.

As the threat of invasion mounts and the
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 22nd 2018 by Michael Joseph
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  294 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Kate Riordan sets this wonderfully atmospheric piece of historical fiction in the wild, beautiful and stunning landscape of Cornwall where women, apparent strangers, find themselves staying at Penhallow Hall, near the aptly named Breakheart Cove. Penhallow Hall has been opened by Eleanor and her querulous, abusive mother, to land girls, working the grounds to grow vegetables in their efforts to feed Britain in WW2 in 1940. This is a complex, character driven tale of women escaping the war to ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
The Stranger is the third book I have read by Kate Riordan and I love the chilling atmosphere of the book. The book starts off very mysterious with a suggestive chapter "The Night Diana Devlin goes Missing", and then the book jumps back in time taking us six weeks back in time and then we get to learn the main characters in the book, land girl Diane Devlin, both through her POV and her diary, her roommate and also land girl Rose and also the lady of the mansion Eleanor. All three women have ...more
Liz Barnsley
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I absolutely adore the way Kate Riordan writes So beautifully done, especially with regards to settings (in this case Cornwall) where you just sink into the story and live there for a while.

In The Stranger we find a multi-layered, intriguing character drama, three very different women hiding out from the war at Penhallow Hall we start on the night one, Diana, goes missing, then we head back in time, seeing the weeks leading up to this and it is fascinating, absorbing and wonderfully
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THE STRANGER by Kate Riordan is a breathtaking story about family, first loves, and strength, and I fell into this spellbinding drama as it unfolded in front of my eyes.

As the war rages on it can almost be forgotten about on the wild shores of Cornwall where life seems to trundle on regardless. But after years of solitude and silence, the rooms of Penhallow Hall are stirring with life again as it opens its doors to three very different women, with very different secrets. And what exactly ails
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5* --> 5*

All my reviews can be found on

Oh, what a wonderful novel this is. This is one of those stories that remind me why I love this genre as much as I do. As soon as I started reading, I knew I was in for a treat and I quickly found myself utterly immersed.

In 1940S Cornwall, the war still seems to be pretty far off. Three women arrive at Penhallow Hall. Eleanor and her mother have opened the doors of their house to Rose, Diana and Jane who will work there as Land
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book reviews on

This is a beautifully written, character-driven novel which takes us to the gorgeous setting of Cornwall, and right back to 1940.

The characters are really well crafted; though each has their own faults (some more than others) they felt far more realistic and convincing for this, and I really warmed to certain characters - particularly Eleanor and Rose. I increasingly wondered who exactly can be trusted and who had any involvement in the disappearance of Diana
Liz Fenwick
A beautifully written story that I couldnt put down. I loved it. ...more
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I dithered between three and four stars for this and finally settled on three.
I loved her book The Girl in the Photograph but is was very different.
It's set in the latter year of World War 2 and concerns three girls who are posted to a big house in Cornwall as land girls. They seemed to have it very easy there compared to other land girl stories I've read and didn't seem to do very much work. All three girls have their own secrets and reasons for being there.
Diana is a royal pain in the butt
Joanna Park
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Its always nice when you get a book you realise you are going to love within the first few pages.  It brings a smile to my face and means I can relax into the book.

The Stranger is told from the point of view of three women who have been brought together at Penhallow for the summer.  Two, Rose and Diana, are landgirls at Penhallow there to work in the grounds, growing vegetables to aid the war effort.  For the other woman, Eleanor, Penhallow is her family home where she has lived since she was a
Gill Paul
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's June 1940 and three land girls arrive at Penhallow Hall, near a stunning Cornish cove with the prophetic name of Breakheart Cove. Rose and Diana both have secrets, and so do the occupants of the hall, Eleanor and her elderly mother. This is smuggling country, with treacherous breakwaters, vertiginous cliffs, mists rolling in off the sea, and locals who have all known each other since childhood and who are now intermarried. Diana turns out to be a restless troublemaker with a nose for ...more
Renita D'Silva
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this brilliant book
At the start I was drawn to this book by the Cornish location.

In this respect it lived up to my expectations. The descriptions and sense of geography add to the quality of this story.

I also liked the time setting, this being a novel set during the early stages of the Second World War. Charting life on the homefront.

The book is beautifully crafted, with a plethora of intriguing characters.

Without risking spoiling the story, I can safely mention that I liked the clever use of a count down
Saturday's Child
This was certainly not the first time I chose a novel to read simply because of the cover. It was also not the first time that I found myself engaged in a plot that I never would have read unless I noticed the cover. For me this was another successful random reading selection.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Stranger

Visit the locations in the novel

The first thing to say about this novel is the glorious writing within. Kate Riordan can always be guaranteed to write a lyrical tale and this is no exception. The entire novel is one long ode to stunning Cornwall and the language, words chosen, sentences put together creates a wonderful picture. Its one that draws you into the story and one you miss when youve finished it.

Penhallow Hall - the house in the novel. Doesnt even just the name make you want to go
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Stranger is the tale of three women, all of whom leave their home to work in the land army. Another, Eleanor lives in the house in which they work and live. All of them have something they are trying to escape from.The novel starts when the body of a young woman is swept out to sea. At the same time a diary is being read, in which secrets are revealed. It then goes back in time by a few weeks to the moment they all met and you learn what happens.There are three narrators Eleanor,emotionally ...more
Abby Slater- Fairbrother
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cornwall 1940
A missing woman and a small community filled with secrets

The novel opens on Sunday 20th July 1940, the night Diana Devlin goes missing. The scene is set at Breakheart cove with the thunder and lightening of the coast as a backdrop.
Five hours later, her friend Rose reads her diary muttering the words. . . Oh Diana what have you done?

The novel timeline then jumps to six weeks previously and portrays the build up to her disappearance. We are quickly introduced to Diana, a danger
Linda Hill
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Three new landgirls at Penhallow Hall will find their lives changed for ever.

Oh my goodness me. What a book! I adored every word of The Stranger. It was like reading a modern day Daphne du Maurier, but for me, so much better. The quality of the poetic and beautiful writing is gorgeous. Kate Riordan has the ability to create a tangible sense of foreboding that permeates the readers skin, giving them goosebumps. Theres a fabulous use of pathetic fallacy so that the weather, the sea and Cornwall
Michael Cayley
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
A gripping novel which is hard to put down.

Two girls and one woman in her thirties are billeted in a house by the Cornish coast during WW2, helping to grow vegetables as part of the land girl effort. The youngest, Jane, is a member of the family who own the house and grounds. The other girl, Diana, is emotionally damaged, and venomous. The book starts with Diana going missing, and then backtracks several weeks, with each chapter taking the reader one day nearer to the disappearance. The house is
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it

"The Stranger" was my first novel by Kate Riordan and I was incredibly excited to finally, eventually get her novel in my greedy mittens - I've heard tons of great things about this author and it's not a wonder that I wanted to see for myself what's so special in her books. And I think that this story is a great start if you, like me, haven't read Ms Riordan's novels before.

The story follows three women of different ages, billeted in a house on Cornish coast in the 1940's in Penhallow Hall, a
Megan Jones
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it
1940 Cornwall, Penhallow Hall finds itself home to three Land Girls, sent to the coast to avoid the horrors of Londons Blitz. One of them, Diana Devlin cannot resist stirring up long buried secrets. When a young womans body is found lying broken on the shore, the promise of safety that the Hall offers is shattered. Was it an accident? Or has something more sinister happened at Penhallow Hall.
I was looking forward to this however found it very disappointing and overall confusing. The plot
Apr 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I have just finished reading The Stranger, Netgalley and the publisher kindly let me have a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The book is based near the end of the second world war in Cornwall, in a large family mansion. It involves Eleanor the daughter of the lady of the mansion and 3 land girls. The story is told in third party by Diana, Rose and Eleanor. In the beginning a body is washed up on the shore after a party, the story the goes back a few weeks to tge the lead up to
Suzy Dominey
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
A twist in the tale ....
Andrea Osborn-Evans
This was a compelling and mysterious read. I loved it.
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roman Clodia
May 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
The du Maurier influence is strong in this novel with its Cornish setting, themes of secrets and lies, and even a name-check for Mrs Danvers. I would have liked more attention to the war-time setting which feels under-utilised. Personally, my heart sinks when I find yet another novel which insists on fragmented timeframes and shifting POVs, plus suspense coming from information withheld from the reader. Atmospheric as a downtime read - but I must stop myself from choosing NetGalley books due to ...more
Joanne Liddement
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
This Kate Riordan's latest novel 'The Stranger' takes us to 1940's Cornwall to Penhallow Hall, a house perched up on the cliffs in a sleepy hamlet near to Fowey, where four woman, all from different backgrounds have been billeted as land girls to convert the Hall's gardens to vegetable plots to help with the war effort.
The first chapter begins with a lone church bell ringing which brings the villagers outside, where the body of a woman is found on the beach. Each of the following chapters form a
Misfits farm
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Think Brideshead but land girls (or women) working in a garden during the wartime in a country manor. Three strangers brought together- but are they? One has been near there years ago for a holiday where she met what she thought at the time, her first love. She is now a married woman but thinks seeing him cant hurt- can it? The youngest of the group who is not their of her own accord and the third, well, this is mostly about her. A woman who worms her way to friendship for her own ends, who ...more
THE STRANGER is a breathtaking story set in 1940s Cornwall, both atmospheric and haunting. It is something of a historical mystery with a plenty of secrets. It actually had a feel of Daphne de Maurier's "Rebecca" as I read it, with even a touch of Danvers in Payne and old Mrs Fox, and was like reading a modern day du Maurier but better.

Three women arrive at Penhallow Hall as "Land Girls" in their role during the war. Eleanor and her feisty controlling mother have opened the doors of their
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph books for letting me be a part of the blog tour for this fantastic book!

Full post here:

Once I got into this book I couldn't put it down. It's atmospheric to say the least! Cornwall is a much used and beloved location in literature, and its easy to see why. Secret coves and dramatic clifftops set the scene, making the perfect backdrop for events to come.

As in Kate's other novels, the house becomes a character in
Nicola Smith
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The tagline "In a house full of strangers who can you trust?" is perfect for this book. Three land girls are thrown together at Penhallow Hall in Cornwall, thrust into a house with secrets and sadness at the heart of it. Rose, Diana and Jane are complete opposites in every way and have to learn to live with each other.

I found The Stranger to be a fascinating and enthralling read, pretty much unputdownable. Rose was my favourite character and somehow her story seemed to me to be the most
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Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist from England. Her first job was as an editorial assistant at the Guardian newspaper, followed by a stint as deputy editor for the lifestyle section of London bible, Time Out magazine.

After becoming a freelancer, she left London behind and moved to the beautiful Cotswolds in order to write her first novel, 'Birdcage Walk'. Her second novel, a haunting dual

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