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Montacute, Somerset

Place: Montacute, Somerset

Book: The Lives She Left behind

Author: James Long

Date visited: May 2017

"In a Somerset village, a teenage boy confronts a teacher with a story he should know nothing about. The boy's impossible knowledge uncovers memories Michael Martin has done his utmost to forget - and soon propels him into danger. As Martin confronts his past once more, three girls arrive in the village of Pen Selwood, one of them drawn by an ancient instinct to find a man called Ferney. Her actions reignite a love story, an instinct that cannot be broken, irrespective of the hurt and danger it brings to those around them..."

The Lives She Left Behind by James Long is a sequel book to Ferney, however this novel can be read as a stand-alone, too. We took a reading journey to the book's setting in Somerset.

Taking a scenic journey through England's south west, Montacute was our first stop on our reading journey. This beautiful village is home to just under a thousand people (we would so love to live here!) and the buildings are made of local hamstone which gives them a distinctive appeal. With a church, stately home, two pubs, a tea room (unfortunately closed when we visited) and a TV Radio and Toy Museum, there's still much to look at here. This is a delightful - and very English - village. Apparently, according to a 2009 newspaper article*, residents live longer here than in any other place in England. If peaceful, beautiful surroundings added years to your life, then we can understand this.

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Of course, we had to have a photograph of the book in situ. Actually, it followed us everywhere.

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And why not? It was a perfect summer's day and the book looks as if it's come home.

Built just after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Anglican parish church of St Catherine can be seen in the heart of the village. The churchyard contains memorials to the Phelps family who built and lived in Montacute House (see below) and has now been extended to cover the area where once the Priory stood. 

At the centre of this village stands an imposing 400 year old stately home with formal gardens and parkland belonging to the National trust. How I wished I'd got my National Trust membership when we visited! But, alas, we did not go inside which is a shame as this house boasts a collection of Tudor and Jacobean portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery which would have been fascinating to see. As well as this, summer theatre productions are sometimes staged here in these spectacular grounds.

If you want to find out more about this grand house, or about the village itself, you can click on the following links:

Montacute House - National trust 

Visit Somerset pages

Otherwise, stay with us as we venture further into the story, visiting Pen Selwood and the famous ancient town of Glastonbury.

The county of Somerset and the book The Lives She Left Behind by James Long, were the basis for our May 2017 book subscription boxes.We filled this box with Somerset-based delights and book-related gifts!

Subscribe to our monthly boxes to treat yourself or a loved one to a Great British reading experience!