EVENTS: Blogger weekend at Owlpen Manor with Kate Riordan and Penguin Books

A couple of weeks ago, I received an exciting invite from Penguin Books to a weekend event in Gloucestershire to celebrate the new novel by Kate Riordan. Published in January, The Girl in the Photograph is an intriguing tale set in the countryside, in the historic Firecombe Manor. The beautiful Owlpen Manor Estate, near Uley, was in fact the inspiration behind Firecombe and the novel, and during the weekend myself and fellow book bloggers were lucky enough to experience this beautiful place for ourselves.

When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton whose only traces remain in a few tantalisingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish? As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes ever more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph - and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth's...

Arriving at the Owlpen Estate, I was greeted by Jessica from Penguin, who showed me to my lovely cottage. Grist Mill is an eighteenth-century mill, beautifully restored and so very cosy! Soon after exploring the cottage, I was met by bloggers (and weekend housemates!) Lizzie and Melissa, and began to get ready for lunch.

At the Cynder House we were met by the lovely Kate Riordan and the ladies from Penguin, which gave us the opportunity to chat to Kate and find out more about the book. The Girl in the Photograph, we were told, was originally going to be a ghost story, though this later changed. However, having now visited Owlpen, it's understandable how one could be inspired to write such a book. Steeped in history, Owlpen Manor is located in a Cotswold valley, with old buildings and complete darkness at night. Anyone who isn't familiar with living in such a rural location (myself included, being a city girl) may find it slightly eerie! But that's one of the many reasons why I loved this place.

We were taken on a tour of the Manor House by Sir Nicholas, who explained the history of Owlpen Manor and showed us around the grounds. The house is absolutely stunning and so very inspiring.

Later, we had afternoon tea in the cottage, then took some time to relax before the evening's dinner, which was a delicious three-course meal in the Cynder House. We chatted more with Kate and each other about the novel, and book blogging in general. It was a lovely evening, and later it was nice to get into my cosy bed in Grist Mill to read The Girl in the Photograph. Reading the book whilst staying at Owlpen was such a magical experience.

(Group picture taken by Sarah from Penguin).

Kate was absolutely lovely, and the whole weekend was such great fun. In fact, I didn't want to go home on Sunday; Owlpen is such a nice place that I wish I was back there! In fact, if you are looking for a cosy place to relax, and enjoy a historical location, then do check out Owlpen Manor.

A big thank-you to Kate Riordan, Penguin Books and Owlpen for a truly wonderful experience.

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