“At the age of seven I was a skilful pickpocket. I could also sew neatly, write a tolerable hand, make a curtsey and a tolerable introduction, dance a little and play simple tunes on the harpsichord … I saw nothing strange in one day running barefoot and the next mincing along in silk hose and satin slippers.”
From street urchin daughter of an inveterate gambler to mistress of the Old Vine, Felicity Hatton’s story begins the last part of Norah Lofts’ enduringly popular Suffolk Trilogy which began with The Town House and continued with The House at Old Vine.
With the coming of the 20th century, the house was in decline—soon to be broken into apartments and shops, including a café serving the increasingly poorer passing trade. For Public Health Inspector Jonathan Roper it was a disgrace that should be demolished without further ado.
But whether they loved it or hated it, the the Old Vine had affected every person who came into contact with it. Their stories were woven into the house’s timber, bricks and mortar; the ghosts of love, hate, jealousy, deceit and murder haunted it—and when the very fabric of the house itself was threatened, the battle for its survival must commence.