In this mesmerising English debut audiobook, a man escapes his former life to enter an enchanted place A man s eye is accommodative, like his heart Samuel Browne s wife has left him suddenly after just three years of marriage She invites him to go live a better life without me He must start again, and alone And so it is that Sam finds himself deep in the English countryside in a cold but characterful old house, remote and encircled by hills, in the employment and company of an older, wiser man, a man as fond of mystery as he is of enlightenment What is the purpose of the seemingly hopeless task set for Sam in the house s ancient library What is the secret of the unused room And where does a life lose its way or gain its meaning The combe is home to a truth born of fraud, a building made of light, and a family wrecked by recklessness loss and love reverberate around the house and around the novel, providing pleasure, pain and purpose Combe Hall is a house designed to honour and to enthral And this very fine debut novel does exactly the same things I just didn t get this at all I was carried along to a certain extent by the search for the missing letter but once that was found I felt the story which was already a little dry and slow petered out I see from other reviewers that there are references to other works and perhaps it s because I m just not well read enough that I didn t recognise them In my defence I have read The Secret Garden but cannot see any connection and I own and have read large chunks of Gibbon I felt the whole character of Sam lacked dimension, I was prepared to strongly empathise with him simply because my husband left me a letter when he abruptly exited our marriage but I just didn t find him believable as a person I didn t actually find any of the other characters real I am disappointed that I haven t enjoyed this , I am always searching for new authors and this was highly recommended by a blogger I follow and also has really good reviews on here Not all books suit all people and sadly I m in the minority in not getting along with this book and I am sorry about that. This book by Thomas Maloney is very well written with beautiful descriptions of nature, birds, flowers and mountains But the story is boring and the main character Sam Browne is a dull man and I couldn t really understand him Perhaps Thomas Maloney should write a book about the natural world as that is, in my opinion, where his writing shines. A reflection on life, death, literature and mountaineering I really enjoyed this book I found the style of writing vivid and the characters fascinating. The Sacred Combe is moving as well as skilfully done It walks the line between playful and serious to good effect, opening the reader up for reflections on life and death in a way that contemporary literature rarely does I am tempted to call it a philosophical or metaphysical novel, because it deals with themes that the metaphysical poets also dealt with death, time, our place in the universe , and is evidently influenced by reflections on the sciences as well as the arts, as a lens for treating the familiar concerns of contemporary emotional life This juxtaposition of the contemporary and mundane the profane world with the venerable and sublime parallels the tension in tone between playful and serious, and in content between life like and unbelievable This multi faceted tension drives the book, and in my view succeeds in creating a space in the reader for reflection and calm An innovative and unusual book, and a rewarding book to read. Samuel Browne is a singularly good man, but is set adrift when his marriage to the mysterious Sarah falls apart, and so, with his life and career in banking at a crossroads, he answers an enigmatic advertisement to act as a volunteer archivist in a private library With nothing to lose, Samuel undertakes the journey to meet with Arnold Comberbache, and therein starts seventeen weeks of an adventure which will change Samuel s perception of life forever.Deep in the British country side, in a wonderfully, atmospheric country house, Samuel is instructed to search for a lost letter, which could be hidden in any of the books in Arnold s magnificent library Searching through shelves of books, which run into many thousands, in order to find this precious letter, Sam could be forgiven for skimping on the task, but as I have said, Sam is a good man and he throws himself into this unusual assignment with quiet reserve and excellent fortitude.Steeped in mystery and alive with Gothic mysticism, I soon became joyously absorbed in the many faceted life of the Sacred Combe, and with great delight, I followed both Arnold and Samuel as they went about their daily business Their quiet companionship, their delight in books and music, and Samuel s tentative exploration into the hidden delights of the gardens around the house, are all so beautifully observed that it really feels like you tiptoe in their shadow.The Sacred Combe is the story of a family, of its links with the past, and of the repercussions of family tragedies, which continue to reverberate down through time It s also a story about a profound love for books, of the glorious mysteries they contain and of the hopes and dreams which are to be found within their pages.There s such a quiet observational style to the novel, that the subtlety of its narrative sort of creeps up on you, until you feel the words wash over you like a comforting blanket Its lingering lyricism reminded me of the writing of Frances Hodgson Burnett in The Secret Garden and the delicate tracery of poetic description made the book a delight to read from start to finish. This book is pretentious,, tedious and aimless With littlLe plot or character development, it is a frustrating read Starts out quite well and leads the reader into what appears to be a plot with a possible twist But then it just fizzles out Disappointing. As beautifully observed as a miniature by Nicholas Hilliard, the story unfolds at a deceptively gentle pace yet holds its secrets until the end The author makes the space of the Combe his own and peoples it with characters that grow in stature as the tale develops He makes his literary debts quite obvious and even breaks the fourth wall sometimes, but the Combe is one of those rare constructs of the imagination that stays in the mind after finishing the book I look forward to Mr Maloney s next opus.