Cover Image: The White Hare

The White Hare

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Anne Cater for my invitation to the blog tour and to Head of Zeus for the beautiful copy of this book.

Magdalena and Mila have bought a house in Cornwall in 1954 and have arrived to start a new life with Mila’s daughter Janey.

A huge house by the sea sets the scene in this historical fiction story. Within minutes of arriving Mila feels a presence and Janey spots what she calls a huge white rabbit. The house has a past and as they settle in and start to renovate and meet the locals they start to discover the history behind their new home.

I love a story set in an old house and I particularly loved this one is set in Cornwall. The strong women characters are really relatable and engaging. From the outset there is a feeling of unease and trepidation which increases throughout the book, and we find out that Mina is escaping from her previous life. I loved the link to Cornish/Celtic folklore and Janey’s Rabbit is seriously unnerving.

The writing is atmospheric and I loved how the supernatural is ever present in the story and really made me want to read more about the history, and I really enjoyed Jane’s notes about how the book was inspired. I had read The Sea Gate by Jane recently and I knew I wanted read The White Hare when I read the blurb. I was totally engrossed and I wanted to savour this interesting and transportative story.

5 stars *****
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My rating:

Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Writing: 4 out of 5 stars
Character development: 4 out of 5 stars
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended for readers of:

Historical Fiction


This book has everything required for a great story. Set in a beautiful location, a remote valley in Cornwall, a house with a history, complex characters, and a mystical legend. The story is well written with the right mixture of mystery and suspense. The characters are portrayed with enough detail to make them realistic. They have good and bad traits and some of them are more likable then others. The story was nicely crafted and unveiled itself at the right pace which gave it a feel of mystery but also made it captivating at the same time. I really enjoyed this book.
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Loved this book since I saw the gorgeous cover. A story that mixes fantasy, folklore, and family saga.
Two women with different goals, a house, and a magic setting.
The author made it work creating a well plotted story, developing realistic characters, and making the fantasy part work with the plot.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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The White Valley in the far west of Cornwall cuts deeply through bluebell woods down to the sea. The house above the beach has lain neglected since the war. It comes with a reputation, which is why Mila and her mother Magda acquire it so cheaply in the fateful summer of 1954.

Magda plans to restore the house to its former glory: the venue for glittering parties, where the rich and celebrated gathered for bracing walks by day and sumptuous cocktails by night. Mila's ambitions, meanwhile, are much less grand; she dreams of creating a safe haven for herself, and a happy home for her little girl, Janey.

The White Valley comes with a long, eventful history, laced with tall tales. Locals say that a white hare may be seen running through the woods there; to some she's an ill omen, to others a blessing. Feeling fragile and broken-hearted, Mila is in need of as many blessings as she can get. But will this place provide the fresh start she so desperately needs……..⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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What a joy this book is. Set in 1950's Cornwall, three generations of women from one family are seeking a new start. The setting is a magical valley where past and present collide and new understandings are reached allowing for the healing of old wounds The author's note at the end was perfect for me as I can read this whilst walking that section of the southwest coast path and could easily identify the valley that was the inspiration for the setting.
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In a valley in the far west of Cornwall lies an old house, once grand and imposing, now neglected for many years. Here, in 1954 Magda, her daughter Mila, and granddaughter Janey arrive, running away from their troubled London lives.
The valley too has a mysterious past. Locals tell legends of war, and rivers running with blood, and of the mysterious disappearance of the pre-war owners, but also of a spirit, often seen in the form of a white hare, which protects those considered its own.

This, the first novel I've read by Jane Johnson, is an atmospheric tale of two women looking for new beginnings in an old house, woven through with just a hint of magic. The valley is immediately recognised (by the reader at least) as somewhere 'other'; a place where old traditions hold sway, from herbal lore to a sort of Earth Mother worship. Magda, an out and out 'townie', doesn't appear to feel anything strange, but Mila, raised in the country by her grandmother, senses foreboding in the air, especially when 5 year old Janey begins to behave strangely as if influenced by her surroundings. The three also respond in different ways to Jack, the stranger found in their barn - Magda treats as she might any other man, as someone to be of use to her; Mila approaches him with caution, while Janey immediately and enthusiastically 'adopts' him as a father figure.

I really liked the characters here, the change in the relationship between mother and daughter, and the gradual peeling back of layers to reveal their past lives. Here they can at last find a way to communicate with each other, maybe not quite as mother and daughter, but at least woman to woman.
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If you think of historical fiction as being like a cake then The White Hare has all the ingredients necessary to make something appetizing: a remote location, a house with a mysterious history, elements of the supernatural, the scars of a country emerging from war, troubled relationships, oh, and a handsome stranger.

There is a timeless quality to the book with only a few references to the Second World War pointing to it being set in 1954. The remoteness of White Cove and the nearby village gives a sense of a place somewhat detached from modern life. ‘The old ways run deep in this part of the county. It’s a place full of ancient mysteries and a great deal of superstition.’ In this respect Cornwall with its rich history of legends and its ancient monuments makes an ideal setting for the story. It’s believable that the supernatural is not far from the surface in this part of the world and that life is lived very much to the rhythm of nature. It also goes some way to explaining the villagers initial hostility towards the new arrivals. ‘The valley doesn’t welcome outsiders.’

Mila’s mother, Magdalena (sometimes referred to in the book as Magda or Mother) is a rather unlikeable character. She’s self-obsessed, prone to fits of anger and seems determined to ‘punish’ her daughter for the failure of a relationship in which Mila was the innocent party, despite the fact it has provided the funds for the purchase and refurbishment of White Cove. Even when the details of Magdalena’s past are revealed, I found it hard to forgive her treatment of her daughter and granddaughter. I did like though the fact the story involves (for the times) an unconventional relationship although, rather contradictorily, the possibility of the disclosure of a similar relationship is shown to have a very different outcome.

Although for me the book moved at a sedate pace, the constant sense of unease the author created helped maintain my interest. There are a number of odd occurrences from ‘mishaps and minor accidents’ to strange visions, many associated with Mila’s daughter, Janey. Some of these defy rational explanation whilst others prove to have more conventional causes. I enjoyed how many of the strange events tied in with the history of the area and that they were given expression through women. The prologue and epilogue neatly reflect this.

Towards the end of the book the pace picked up as, one after another, secrets are revealed, animosity is replaced by acceptance and unexpected good fortune signals a different future for many of the characters.
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I was sent a copy of The White Hare by Jane Johnson to read and review by NetGalley.  I really enjoyed this novel.  It was well written, engaging and rather magical.  I loved the fact that the story was told first person by protagonist Mila, who had moved to an isolated house in the far west of Cornwall with her mother Magda.  The book is filled with colourful characters, folklore and mysticism, along with the age-old divide between Christianity and paganism.  If you like to get absorbed in a book that has an otherworldly edge to a believable story then this is the one for you!
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Reading a Jane Johnson book you know you are always in for a treat - I am such a fan. Whether she be writing an historical tale from Morocco or Spain, or the mystical elements of the Cornish coast, Jane has a real skill at capturing that sense of place. The White Hare sees a return to Cornwall and the myths and legends that surround this area of England.

‘Those ancient people had incredible vision and determination. They were channelling a force of nature with which they had a powerful connection, and I think we’ve lost that connection in this busy, chaotic world.’

The White Hare is a slow burn tale loaded with atmosphere as it tells the story of three generations of women from the same family. While somewhat different from Jane’s previous books, she still creates a great sense of place for these characters. You are sure to lose yourself in the Cornish coast from the beaches to the gothic home and the lightly imbued mystical elements. I appreciated the exploration of local folklore/pagan beliefs that are sprinkled throughout. 

This is a story to immerse yourself in with a focus on people and place rather than a strong, consuming plot. Set in beautiful Cornwall, there is rarely a story to be told from this locale that does not appeal to readers who wish to lose themselves in a unique and special place. 

‘Once you’ve lived in this valley, you’ll never be free of it. Its uncanny beauty gets inside you, right into the marrow. It has its own climate, its own peculiar character. In the same way as people can draw you in and repel you at the same time; both beguile and frighten you.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
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"The woods feel very different this time, as if they are watchful, aware of our presence. It is not a hostile atmosphere, not menacing, but somehow 'full' - not just with sounds and colour, but with life."

I have always been a big fan of Jane Johnson's writing style, as she has an uncanny ability to bring scenes to life, no matter what time-period or part of the world they happen to be in. Finding out that she was writing another book set in Cornwall, made me incredibly happy. The White Hare is a slow-burn, beautifully written, atmospheric book about three generations of women in Cornwall. It explores local folklore and pagan beliefs, it shines a light on the acceptance of strangers and it is the story of a woman and her mum, growing closer together. 

In The White Hare we meet Mila and her mom Magda. In the summer of 1954 they are able to cheaply purchase an old house in the White Cove, Cornwall, where they swiftly move to from London, as Mila escapes a rather scandalous relationship. Together with little five-year old Janey, they set out to restore the house to its former glory, and open it up as a B&B. However, slowly but surely it becomes apparent that something has happened at the property. Locals shy away from it, and are not nearly as welcoming to Mila and Magda and their plans as the women would have hoped. When Janey starts to displays odd behavior, from elaborate conversations with her toy rabbit to drawing a rather specific pattern, which Mila also discovers in other places around the house and the village, Mila becomes increasingly worried about their venture in White Cove. 

While different from her other books, Johnson once again manages to make a place and a range of characters come to life. From the lush foresty green around the property, to the gales hitting the beaches and from the gothic house to the intense but interesting villagers, everything appears easily in your mind's eye when going through the pages. It is a slow-burn of a story and for me it really was all about sitting with the scenery and the characters, more so than the plot. That said, I loved the transformation in Mila and seeing the changed relationship between her and her mom.
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I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book.  I was drawn to it by the beautiful cover, and when I first started reading I wasn't at all sure I was going to enjoy it.  There seemed to be so many cliches: people escaping from something in their past, old dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere, hostile neighbours, strange goings on, sensitive child.  I felt the story was put together from pieces of other books.

However, although there are stereotypes and familiar themes in the book it has enough originality and freshness to make it an enjoyable and worthwhile read.  The pace is quick, the plot has a few interesting twists and turns and it's brought to a satisfying conclusion.  And I loved the prologue!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an e-copy for review.
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A run down house in Cornwall and a mother-daughter relationship in need of repair make the basis for a beautifully atmospheric read.  Mila, her daughter Janey and her mother Magda move to Cornwall to escape a scandal with Mila's marriage.  The locals are less than welcoming to begin with, but when Janey  talks of seeing the White Hare, long-buried secrets begin to emerge and the community come together in support. A brilliant read which I devoured in a single day, the characters were easy to identify with and the plot moved along at the right pace.  Would definitely like to read more by Jane Johnson.
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‘In a valley steeped in legend lies an abandoned house where Edens may be lost, found and remade...’ 

It’s 1954 and Mila, her daughter Janey and her mother Magda move from London to a remote valley in West Penwith, Cornwall, known as The White Valley, having bought a run-down house located between the sea and the woods. However, not is as it seems as there is a reason they managed to buy such a grand house for a great price. Superstitions, folklore, and rumours run wild in Cornwall and as well as being ‘outsiders’, not only for coming from London but also being Polish, settling in does not come with ease.  

Magda has grand plans for the house, as she strives to have it restored to its former glory and run as  B&B, where guests will enjoy lavish breaks in the countryside and be entertained with brilliant parties mingling with high society. However, Mila only wants to make this a safe home to bring up her daughter, a new start for them both, but the history of the valley makes life very uneasy. There is a white hare which roams The White Valley; not all get to see her but if they do, they are unsure if she is an omen or a blessing. 
Oh, my goodness this is a superbly unsettling, eerie, atmospheric story but so perfectly balanced as I found myself smiling and chuckling from time to time which lightened the tone. However, these moments where I let my guard down never lasted for long as I was soon sitting on the edge of my seat again. It is character-driven through Mila where the story slowly unfolds, and layer upon layer is peeled away revealing either an event or revelation, I was just engrossed as I never knew what was coming.  It is also beautifully rich in superstitions and folklore, seamlessly blending tales from Poland with Cornish tales and rich in Cornish history. I now need a trip to West Penwith to learn and explore further.  This superb book is out this Thursday 23rd June!
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In the far west of Cornwall lies the White Valley, which cuts deeply through Bluebell Woods down to the sea at White Cove. The Valley has a long and bloody history, laced with folklore, and it sits a house above the beach that has lain neglected since the war. It comes with a reputation and a strange atmosphere, which is why mother and daughter,  Magdalena and Mila manage to acquire it so cheaply in the summer of 1954. Magda has grand plans to restore the house to it's former glory as a venue for glittering parties. Her  daughter Mila just wants to escape the scandal in her past and make a happy home for her daughter Janey.

The story explores the Cornish folklore and it's an atmospheric read. Magda and Mila buy a gothic styled house that they want to restore but both have different visions for it's use after the restorations are complete. The Cornish legend is entwined with the supernatural. Mila's daughter, five year old Janey, behaviour changes almost overnight, She becomes obsessed with a toy rabbit. This is a descriptively and well written book. The characters are well developed and believable. I quite enjoyed this book.

I would like to thank #NetGalley #HeadOfZeus and the author #JaneJohnston for my ARC of #TheWhiteHare in exchange for an honest review.
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A historical, mystical tale set in Cornwall in 1954 explores Cornish folklore, the natural world and human relationships. The author creates an atmospheric ethos that is a primary motivator in the story. After a scandalous relationship implodes, Mila moves to a gothic-style house with her mother and young daughter. The locals are wary of incomers, and the house has a dark history. Mila wonders if she has made a mistake.

I love the mystical quality of the tale and how Mila gradual realises her worth through meeting some of the valley's unusual inhabitants. The gentle pacing allows the reader to appreciate the sensory imagery and secrets within the lyrical writing.

It's a story of acceptance, renewal and love.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
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I love Jane Johnson’s books; they always have such fascinating settings – 17th century Morocco in The Sultan’s Wife, 15th century Spain in The Court of Lions, and the author’s native Cornwall in The Tenth Gift. She returns to Cornwall again for her new novel, The White Hare, a book steeped in the myths and legends of that region of England.

The novel begins in 1954, with Mila Prusik, her mother Magda and five-year-old daughter Janey arriving at White Cove near Eglosberyan on the Cornish coast. Having left Poland for England during World War II, the family had been settled in London until a disastrous relationship with a married man left Mila desperate to make a fresh start. She and Magda have bought a neglected old house in the Cornish countryside and are planning to restore it to its former glory and turn it into a guest house. However, not everyone is happy to see the house under new ownership and the Prusiks receive a hostile welcome.

As Mila and her mother begin their restoration work, they hear hints from their neighbours that the house has a sinister past and should be left alone. The two women think this is nonsense and continue with their plans, but Mila becomes increasingly concerned about the changes in Janey’s behaviour – particularly her obsession with Rabbit, a stuffed toy that seems to have a mind of its own. How is all of this related to sightings of the legendary White Hare and to the strange symbols and carvings Mila finds all over the house and its grounds?

The White Hare is one of the most atmospheric books I’ve read for a while, not just because of the supernatural aspects – which are subtle, ambiguous and unsettling – but also because of the way the setting is so beautifully described. As Jane Johnson explains in her author’s note, the town of Eglosberyan and its valley are not real but are inspired by several real places. I could easily picture the white house surrounded by dark woodland, the stream tumbling between mossy rocks, the lonely beach framed by granite cliffs – they are all brought so vividly to life.

I also found it interesting to follow the relationship between Mila and Magda. When they first arrive in Cornwall, Mila is timid and submissive, allowing herself and Janey to be bullied by the hard and domineering Magda, but both characters do grow and change throughout the novel as the valley works its magic on them. There’s also a love interest for Mila, but although I did like him I felt that this part of the story took too much of a dramatic turn towards the end. Still, this is a very enjoyable novel and, while it’s quite different from the other Jane Johnson books I’ve read, being set entirely in one period and not as far into the past, I liked it just as much.
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Mila and her overbearing mother, Magda, move to a neglected old house in a deep valley in Cornwall, along with Mila’s daughter, Janey. They plan to restore it and turn it into an exclusive holiday retreat but soon learn that the locals do not like the house because of its dark history, which they are reluctant to talk about, and many are hostile to the new occupants. This setting is very atmospheric and has a strong Gothic feel to it. The Cornish legend woven through the story is fantastic and I loved the supernatural touches, which were done with a light hand. Most of the characters are very strong and memorable, but the one who I felt had the least personality was the main character, Mila. This is partly explained by her recent back story and also having always felt unloved and overwhelmed by her very strong mother, but at the same time I struggled to see what her attraction was for the main male character. I really enjoyed the story though and Jane Johnson remains one of my favourite authors.
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Well written with an almost beautiful prose, compelling storyline, well devekloped characters and a well described setting whose descriptions of the Cornish Countryside made me feel lke I was there. I loved it.
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a novel about mothers and daughters
set in cornwall
local legends about white hares and what happens if you see one
a girl with a plush toy of a rabbit
magical realism
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Mila, her mother Magda and Milas’ 5 year old daughter Janey have left London for the wilds of Cornwall, buying an old house, with the intention of turning it into a B&B. But tension runs deep in the relationship between the older mother and daughter pairing. At the start, Magda is very much the driving force, acerbic, opinionated and without any apparent love for her daughter. Mila, in the meantime, seems cowed by her mother, devoted to Janey but hankering back to the life she left. As the book gets into its stride the relationships change, not least because of Janey and Rabbit. I liked the way the wildness of the area in Cornwall is described, the depth of feeling that the locals have, to each other and outsiders. The history and mysticism of Cornwall is brought into the story really well, and feels very atmospheric. There is a good murder/mystery plot running through it, very well researched and in all a thoroughly enjoyable, intriguing read. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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