Tumbledown Manor: A Novel

Helen Brown

ISBN 9781496701497
Publish Date 4/26/2016
Format ePub
Categories Fiction, Kensington Ebooks
List Price: $5.99

Other Editions

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Dear Reader,

I know you have 100 other books to read. You could be posting photos of your cat on Facebook, or playing Candy Crush. In a world awash with options, I’m honored you’re taking time to plunge into Tumbledown Manor with me.

After years writing nonfiction memoirs, I felt my long-suffering family deserved a break. So I decided to make up characters and storylines for a change.

Tumbledown Manor is a tribute to women friends who’ve come through horrible mid-life crises to reinvent themselves in dazzling ways. In a world obsessed with perfection, I wanted to celebrate scars, wrinkles and bulges. I also hope the book will be amusing in parts.

There’s a cat too, of course. How could the main character, Lisa, survive without a feline spirit guide?

If you met my family, they’d tell you my nonfiction writing is largely fantasy. To my surprise, writing Tumbledown Manor gave me wings to tell the truth with more freedom. Oh, and to have a go at a sex scene.

Heartfelt thanks, dear Reader. Without you I’d have to find another job. And I can’t stay on my feet long enough to work in a café.

You may now check your emails.

With warmth and gratitude,
Helen Brown


What happens when you pick up Helen Brown’s new novel, Tumbledown Manor? In my case you grab it and head for a comfy spot where you can relax and enjoy a few hours of delightful reading – preferably with a feline companion. Belle Amie, my fluffy white calico, and I settled onto the bed with great anticipation. Before long we were grinning and nodding (me) and purring (her) as we cuddled in the glow of Helen’s storytelling skills and wit. Full disclosure: I admit this wasn’t my first time reading the book. I am, after all, Helen’s American editor, so I was privileged to be among the first to read her novel as a manuscript. I rarely have time to read a finished copy of a book I’ve worked on. But I knew Tumbledown Manor would be the exception – a book I loved so much, I just had to experience it afresh in its enticing printed form. Guess what – it was just as good as I remembered it! Helen’s engaging voice brings to life an irresistible story of a woman bravely setting out to renovate an old family home – and her life. Give it a try, won’t you? The feline companion is optional, but highly recommended. Just settle in and enjoy.

From New York Times bestselling author Helen Brown comes a witty, uplifting novel about a woman who discovers that it's never too late to build the home--and the life--you've always longed for…

The windows rattle. The roof leaks. Every surface cries out to be stripped, painted, or polished. But for writer Lisa Trumperton, the dilapidated manor house that once belonged to her great-grandfather is far more than the sum of its battered parts. It's the chance for a new start on her own terms. The fact that it's in the Melbourne countryside of her Australian homeland, far from the deceitful ex-husband she just left behind in New York…well, that's a bonus.

Lisa sets to work refurbishing Trumperton Manor, assisted by her son, his friends, and a "Gray Army" of retired handymen. But it's not just her ancestral home that's being transformed. As she trades her chic Manhattan clothes for jeans and work boots, Lisa is changing and fortifying her relationships with her family and her sense of self. There are floods, fires, and catastrophes, but there are new allies too, including a one-eyed cat, a stubborn cockatoo, and a rugged landscaper with an irresistible grin. Piece by piece, the house is pushing Lisa beyond her old limits, daring her to embrace something bigger, braver, and more rewarding than she ever dreamed.

Praise for Helen Brown and Her Books

"A buoyant tale, heartfelt and open." --Booklist on Cleo

"Brown writes eloquently about the bonds between women … a moving story of love and identity." --Kirkus Reviews on Cats & Daughters

Reading Group Guide – Tumbledown Manor

1. On her birthday ending with a Zero, Lisa's reaction is extreme. What are her options and how could she have reacted differently? Is it better to be a "good wife" and put up with humiliation?

2. Not so long ago, the prospect of moving countries and starting a new life would have been unthinkable for a divorced, midlife woman. What has changed in society for this to be a possibility for Lisa?

3. Lisa's relationship with her sister Maxine changes. Where do their resentments spring from, and how are they healed? How easy is it for adult siblings to make peace with each other?

4. What are the turning points that transform Lisa from victimhood to empowerment?

5. Lisa is a cat lover. Discuss her similarities with Mojo and the parallel paths their stories take. What is the importance of the cockatoo?

6. Scott and Lisa are an unlikely match. Why are they attracted to each other? Would you want to see them married and settled down?

7. Lisa frets over her daughter Portia's eating disorder and the gulf that has grown between them. As a 21st Century parent, how appropriate is it to wade in and take control?

8. The old house qualifies as a character in the book. Discuss its importance and what it symbolises for Lisa.

9. Lisa is ashamed of her scarred torso. She is astonished when Scott finds her beautiful. Discuss how the values we're exposed to through media and advertising affect how we feel about ourselves. Are there ways to move beyond accepting wrinkles and bulges to actually celebrating them?

10. Aunt Caroline reveals a shameful secret from the family's past. To what extent should a generation take responsibility for their forebears?

About Helen Brown:

Helen Brown was born and brought up in New Zealand, where she first worked as a journalist, TV presenter, and scriptwriter. A multi award winning columnist, Helen now lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her family and feline, the internationally beloved Jonah. Cleo rose to the top of the bestseller lists in its first weeks in the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, and Australia, and has been translated into more than sixteen languages. Cats & Daughters entertained her readers with publication in six countries, and her novel Tumbledown Manor showed her storytelling talents at their best. You are invited to visit Helen at helenbrown.com and follow her on Facebook.

The author will donate a portion of her earnings from this book to BideaWee animal shelter and hospital. Learn what you can do to help at bideawee.org.

Photo Credit: James Braund

Average Customer Review

Based on 1 review

Customer Review

Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown (Tuesday, March 22, 2016)
Reviewer: jbarr5

Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown
Book starts out with Lisa and it's her birthday, one of the big ones and she being surprised by family and friends.
When the roses arrive with a note-not meant for her but her spouses mistress she knows she has to act and do something.
After everyone has left to go in their separate directions she meets with the publishing company and she informs them she's heading to her sisters house in Australia.
Her son also lives nearby. Once there she looks for a place for herself and is almost ready to sign for a townhouse when she realizes the manor her grandfather was raised in was for sale.
It's very run down but with the help of others she's able to live in it, write her book and get things fixed up, all be the stables. She's heard rumors of a scandal that happened and ghosts are haunting the stables.
She does hear her share of things that she can't explain but is overall happy with the purchase and her surroundings.
There are a handful of other characters that add their drama to the mix making this at times a good funny read.
Lots of twists and turns at the end. Love that this book is actually two books in one-the one that she's writing and the one that she's living.
I received this book from The Kennsington Books in exchange for my honest review

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