The Haunting by Alan Titchmarsh-A review

Alan Titchmarsh/Fiction Historical Paranormal

My rating:★★★★★

[★-lost me ★★-average ★★★-worth a read ★★★★-excellent ★★★★★-amazing]

the haunting

Moving between the early 19th century and present day, this is a dark story of love, betrayal, intrigue, and murder

“History is boring; and what does it have to do with us?”

Much as Harry Flint tries to fight against the beliefs of his pupils, there are times when he wonders if they are right. With a failed marriage behind him, he sets about changing his own life and researching that of his ancestors. How can the mysterious disappearance of Anne Flint in 1816 and the drowning of a young girl in the chalk stream when the Prince Regent occupied the throne possibly affect him? The deeper he digs, the more he realizes that the past is closer than he could have ever imagined. Set in the beauty of the Hampshire countryside, this is a story where people are not what they seem and the past is no more predictable than the future.


Harry Flint is tired of his boring life, being history teacher to a bunch of ungrateful twelve year olds who ask why they should be studying the past, and his failed marriage to barrister Serena. He wants new start, a beautiful beginning, rather than a happy ending. His interests range from history to genealogy to lives of saints. He wants to trace his family history, so far he is stuck on Merrily Flint, he can’t seem to go further back beyond Merrily. Harry buys a cottage on the banks of a chalk stream, the river Itchen Parva. Little does he know that his family history was made on the banks of this same river, and that a connection is about to be forged between him and his next-door neighbor Alexandria Overton and her daughter Anne, a connection which goes back centuries. He also discovers that his friend and fellow teacher, Rick Palfrey’s ancestors too lived on this land. But who is the lady in white Anne sights in Harry’s home, what is she carrying, and why is there an icy draught in his cottage in June? And is Sir Marcus Carew of dubious descent or is he really related to Sir Thomas Carew of the 1800s?

Though the name of the book says ‘haunting’, this book does not haunt in the stereotypical way with gaudy screams, ghosts with OTT make-up and doors banging. In this haunting, the past gets too close to the future and shapes the lives of all those who are associated with it. As Harry says, we need to learn about the past because the past shapes the present, which in turn shapes the future. Written in beautiful language, with the narrative switching between 1816 and 2010, The Haunting stays with you, and haunts you.

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