I'm sorry, I couldn't let the moment pass. Inspired by the country house novel article I recently mentioned, I had to add a few more books to those discussed. Lots of big names and famous books have already been mentioned: Atonement by Ian McEwan, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley, P.G. Wodehouse's books, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (I've read all of the above save the Waugh and any novels by Wodehouse and I'll get to them eventually). I was thinking of a few more that would fit nicely in the list. What about these:
1. The House at Riverton, Kate Morton - This is an upstairs/downstairs sort of story told from the perspective of one of the maids looking back at a family tragedy.
2. The Crime at the Black Dudley, Margery Allingham - The first Albert Campion mystery that takes place at a house party on a country estate. At one point the guests are locked in an upstairs room with the threat of the house being set on fire. Great stuff.
3. Loving, Living and Party Going, Henry Green - Three novels in one book, Loving is mostly about the downstairs servants in a Great House in Ireland.
4. The Franchise Affair, Josephine Tey - The Franchise is a crumbling country house where a dastardly crime is said to have occurred. A classic mystery!
5. Howards End, E.M. Forster - Howards End is the name of a country house that Mrs. Wilcox wills to Margaret Schlegel on something of a whim to her family's consternation. The Wilcox family is monied class and the Schlegel sisters are intellectuals. Wonderful book about class and sex. It's one of my favorite books.
6. The Fox's Walk, Annabel Davis-Goff - Alice Moore is left behind on her grandmother's estate when her parents return to London. The story is set against the backdrop of WWI and the Irish Rebellion and Alice must choose between divided loyalties.
7. The Edwardians, Vita Sackville-West - "A portrait of fashionable society at the height of an era, The Edwardians reveals, through the lives of its characters, all that was glamorous about the period—and all that was to lead to its downfall. Sebastian and Viola are children of the English aristocracy. Handsome and moody, 19-year-old Sebastian is heir to Chevron, a vast country estate. Tying him to his inheritance is a deep sense of tradition and love of the English countryside, but he loathes the cold, extravagant society of which he is a part."
8. The Minotaur, Barbara Vine - Lydstep Old Hall is the setting for this suspenseful story. There's something not quite right with the Cosway family. I don't think I've read a 'bad' Vine/Rendell novel, and this was one of her more gripping stories.
9. Skeleton in the Grass, Robert Bernard - "Shortly after Sarah Causeley goes to work for the genteel but outspokenly pacifist Hallams as governess, the Spanish Civil War erupts. The war focuses local antipathies, ugly pranks, and murder on the Hallam's Elizabethan home."
10. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie - Hercule Poirot solves his first mystery at Styles Court, where the mistress of the manor has been murdered.
11. Fool's Fortune, William Trevor - "In this award-winning novel, an informer’s body is found on the estate of a wealthy Irish family shortly after the First World War, and an appalling cycle of revenge is set in motion."
12. Mad Puppetstown, Molly Keane - Mad Puppetstown is my current Molly Keane book, and the name of a grand estate in Ireland where cousins Easter, Evelyn and Basil pass an idyllic childhood. The Troubles send them fleeing to England, though their happiness there is not forgotten.
13. The Last September, Elizabeth Bowen - Another Anglo-Irish author and story of a fading way of life where the landed gentry knows their days are numbered. This is a coming of age story--brilliant.
And one extra thrown in for good measure, The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The ships that brought the wealthy Americans to Britain were referred to as 'Shuttles'. The elder Vanderpoel sister marries for a title, her money going towards a crumbling estate to help run it, but its a poor match, as Sir Nigel turns out to be a scoundrel of the worst sort. It's up to the younger Vanderpoel sister to try and set things right.
What have I missed? I expect there are loads more books with a country house setting--mysteries seem to be particularly popular in the countryside! I know I am always looking for books with this setting, so do please share your recommendations.