BLOG TOUR – The Birthday House by Jill Treseder

Thank you to Anne Cater, SilverWood Books and the author for my place on the tour and the paperback. All opinions are honest and my own.


The year is 1955, the location picturesque Devon.

In a house by the River Dart, schoolgirl Josephine Kennedy posts invitations to her twelfth birthday party – a party that never takes place.

Horrific violence is committed that night in the family home, leaving all of its occupants dead. 

Based on a disturbing real-life crime, this compelling story explores Josephine’s fate through the prism of friends and family – the victims and survivors who unwittingly influenced the events that led up to the tragedy.

Josephine’s best friend, Susan, is haunted by the secrets of the birthday house. Can she ever find a way of making peace with the past?

My Review

This book is a fictional story based on a tragic event that took place in Dartmouth and is the authors tribute to her friend.

Retelling the tragedy is the authors attempt at asking why and I hope laying ghosts to rest. Knowing this was based on truth made it all the more harrowing to read.

At just under 150 pages it’s a quick read but no worse for it. Packing in beautiful writing and rich characters this is a glimpse behind the net curtains of the 1950’s neighbours.

The old saying “you never know what goes on behind closed doors” couldn’t be truer here. Although some had their suspicions and rumours were circulated.Voicing them was not what they did. You kept out of other peoples business. It’s such a shame that even today nearly 65 years later people still keep quiet when they suspect domestic violence, not wanting to get involved. Although I am glad the laws have recently changed to include coercive control. However throughout the book you realise the potential triggers, a parental suicide, public shaming, alcohol misuse, rumours of affairs and mood changes.

Although the author will maybe never know the real reason her friend died I hope writing this was cathartic.

About the author


I started writing in a red shiny exercise book when I was seven years old. But in that time and place it was an ‘invalid’ activity, was overlooked, but never went away. It was many years before I felt able to call myself ‘writer’.

But there came a day when the phrase ‘I am a writer’ no longer sounded pretentious, but legitimate, and even necessary. Was it because I had a writing room instead of the corner of a landing? Or because I spent more time writing? Or because I’d got better at it? Or because I get miserable and bad-tempered if I don’t write? Probably a combination of all of the above.

Writing is my third career. The first was as a social worker with children and families, a job I loved, but left because I could no longer cope with the system.

This led to a freelance career as an independent management consultant, helping people to handle emotions in the work context. I worked in the IT industry, in companies large and small, as well as public organisations. Later I became involved in research projects concerned with the multi-disciplinary approach to social problems such as child abuse. So, in a sense, I had come full-circle.

All these experiences feed into the process of writing fiction, while my non-fiction book The Wise Woman Within resulted indirectly from the consultancy work and my subsequent PhD thesis,Bridging Incommensurable Paradigms’, which is available from the School of Management at the University of Bath.

I live in Devon and visit Cornwall frequently and these land and seascapes are powerful influences which demand a presence in my writing.

Writers’ groups and workshops are a further invaluable source of inspiration and support and I attend various groups locally and sign up for creative courses in stunning locations whenever I can. I try doing writing practice at home but there is no substitute for the focus and discipline achieved among others in a group.

I have written some short stories and recently signed up for a short story writing course to explore this genre in more depth.

I live with my husband in South Devon and enjoy being involved in a lively local community.


Twitter @Jill_Treseder

Link to buy

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