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The Temple House Vanishing

by Rachel Donohue

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue X
The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue
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  • Rebecca H. (Bolton, CT)
    The Temple House Vanishing
    This eerie mystery told in dual timelines and from dual points of view evokes a darkly menacing atmosphere from the beginning. The setting is Temple House, an isolated, gothic structure originally the home of an eccentric collector and later a school for adolescent girls run by nuns in an isolated part of Ireland. In the present day, the school is deserted and decaying. The year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the disappearance of Louisa, a scholarship student and outsider, and the young, charismatic art teacher Mr. Lavelle. Their vanishing is still a mystery, but a young reporter is determined to revisit the event by interviewing those close to the pair. In particular, there is Helen, former prefect at Temple House and adolescent enemy of Louisa, now a wealthy socialite, and Victoria, an emotionally unstable academic who was the student closest to both Mr. Lavelle and Louisa. The story is told from the viewpoints of the young woman simply called the Journalist and of Louisa, the vanished. The author does an excellent job of revealing the obsessive nature of the relationships between characters as the story alternates between the present day and the past. The all-consuming character of adolescent love with its loneliness, jealousy, and obsessiveness, is explored along with the clash between the artistic sensibilities of Lavelle, Victoria, and Louisa and the oppressive Catholicism of the nuns. The writing is excellent and the claustrophobic atmosphere builds to a final explosion as the mystery is revealed in the ending pages. This novel will certainly provoke some interesting discussions among book club members.
  • Patricia T. (Fallbrook, CA)
    The Temple House Vanishing
    Temple House, a Catholic Boarding School for Girls; an isolated location by the sea, dangerous cliffs, lashing waves, a perfect setting for a psychological thriller, with a touch of the Gothic. What happened all those years ago, when scholarship student Louisa disappeared at the same time as art teacher Mr.Lavelle. Best friend Victoria knows but is not telling. 25 years on a journalist with a connection to Louisa wants to find out, the trail is cold, but she persists, and she succeeds.

    A great story, beautiful prose, which flip-flops back and forth between the three protagonists very effectively. The tension builds slowly, as does the character development, towards an ending with a very satisfactory twist. I read this book over two days, just had to find out what happened. Recommended it highly.
  • Sharon P. (San Diego, CA)
    Compelling Literary mystery
    What fascinating characters!! I was expecting more vapid 16-year olds, but I found these young women—Louisa, Victoria (and even Helen)—to be complex and compelling. I was hooked at the premise of them all orbiting around their attractive and deep art teacher. While it's be many decades since I was 16, I could recall that kind of intensity and importance that comes with being a young woman. I loved how the book got weirder and weirder as the chapters went on pulling me deeper and deeper into the mystery and the deliciousness of the range of possibilities of conclusions. I would have loved to have a bit more insight into Mr. Lavelle's thinking, but the. Again, maybe that would have taken away from some of the mystery. Well done!
  • Kimberly C. (Ypsilanti, MI)
    Rachel Donohue's first novel draws you in from the beginning pages and grips tight throughout its moody twists and turns. Her story of love, friendship and betrayal at a girls' boarding school is haunting and compelling. The writing is gorgeous but sparse, with few wasted words. It's a powerful debut.
  • Bonne O. (Hartwell, GA)
    In the opening prologue, I was intrigued by the way the reader is immediately drawn into the 25-year old mystery of the vanishing student and male teacher. Temple House has its share of prejudice, cliquish girls, petty jealousies' and ultimately lies and betrayal. The methodical unfolding of the teenage love fantasy provides the perfect storm for a dramatic event. Once the mystery is revealed, the reader is promptly compelled to re-visit the prologue in order to get the full impact of the conclusion of the story. I particularly liked the way the author tied up all the loose ends.
    Because this story has several underlying themes I believe it would be ideal for a book club discussion.
  • Chris (CA)
    What a Debut!
    What an engrossing, suspenseful, intense novel. The writing is terrific with beautiful descriptions. It was as if I could feel what the characters were feeling. Teenage angst, female friendships. how easily feelings are hurt, "mean girls," rule breaking, confusion, attraction, and differences in social class were written about realistically I felt as though I had been dropped into this school and was experiencing what they were experiencing. I disappeared into that boarding school. I learned about life in a boarding school run by nuns. The author also makes you think about the life-long consequences of keeping secrets. It's hard to believe this is a debut novel. There are many complex topics for discussion for book clubs, therapists, peer groups.
  • Marguerite K. (Vernon, CT)
    The Temple House Vanishing
    I thought 'The Temple House Vanishing' was really engrossing from the first page. The story is told in first-person narrations alternatively by Louisa, a scholarship student, and by the journalist trying to unravel the mystery (or is it mysteries) of two disappearances many years later. Both Louisa and charismatic art teacher, Mr. Lavelle, are gone without trace. While the journalist tries to solve the mystery, very different stories are revealed. These stories revolve around Mr. Lavelle and the relationships he has with two students and whether either story has any truth to it. I will certainly be looking forward to any further books by Rachel Donohue.

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