by Susanna Kearsley
Genres: Historical Fiction, Suspense
"The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren't such easy things to keep."
It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story.
Part history, part romance, and all kinds of magic, Susanna Kearsley's latest masterpiece will draw you in and never let you go, even long after you've closed the last page.
Please welcome Sophia Rose to the blog today as she shares Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley. This is an author whose books are in my TBR pile and I am curious to see what she thinks. Grab an iced coffee and enjoy….
Sophia Rose’s Review
Want some atmosphere and a story focused on an old Colonial Era house out on Long Island that is on the cusp of revealing it’s secrets? Susanna Kearsley does what she does best and offers a story within a story, a twisting tale full of secrets and love in the past? And that little bit where the reader catches something in their peripheral view and, for just an instant, believes in ghosts and superstition as reality.
The story opens with history buff, Charley, moving to Long Island and taking a job as curator for the Wilde House Museum that is set to open after restorations are complete. Charley is burdened by grief because she took this job because of her brother’s death and a need to be there for his nineteen year old daughter and it’s a chance to sort out her own life. She is content to have a connection with Niels friend, Malaika and to enjoy Sam the contractor for work on the Wilde house. But, Charley stumbles on a ghost story and a tragic tale of lovers in the past surrounding the old Wilde House. Is it the Frenchman’s ghost carrying the lantern in the woods at night looking for his lost love or is there more to it?
The past storyline in the late 1650’s is told from dual points of view of both Lydia Wilde and Jean-Philippe de Sabran. Lydia just lost her fiancé’ to the French in one of the battles during the Seven Years’ War and her brother didn’t come back from that battle normal. Her hatred is palpable, but her family has two French officer parolees foist upon them even while she is trying to hold her family together after her mother’s death. Jean-Philippe is captivated by the English beauty, but has a hard path to winning her. Ominous clouds form around the pair and the reader has the knowledge of the present day story that keeps the advancing tragedy always on the mind.
As usual with her books, I do prefer the past storyline especially since their differing perspectives were so wide of each other at first with the whole enemy nationalities and ideologies thing, but I still loved the present plot as well. Charley’s story had me not all that disappointed when the focus would shift to the present. The author has a way of stringing a strong connection through so that past and present rub along nearly seamlessly. I think the reader is meant to connect with the past story more so because there are two narrators for that bit as opposed to just the one in the present day. Neither story felt underdeveloped, but, I’m a history buff like Charley, so that will pull me in every time.
The author’s research is meticulous. I always learn a little more and see the past well through her eyes when I’m getting the descriptions. It’s not dry and she paints her settings in a colorful palette. She makes some pointed historical and present day social commentary that all weaves into the story well. I love the Colonial Era and don’t pick up enough stories set in that time. Combine it with the atmospheric suspense and romance of the fictional characters the author wrote and I was sublimely happy.
I’ve purposefully kept things vague, but there is a sense of discovery that is the best feeling when reading this one that I don’t want to destroy for future readers. I will warn that the pacing is gentle and the suspense is far from thriller intense. The author relies on emotion and character development rather than intense action. Think old-school romantic suspense. Those who love romantic suspense with a strong history element should definitely give this book and the author a go.Want some atmosphere and a story focused on an old Colonial Era house out on Long Island that is on the cusp of revealing it's secrets? Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley offers twists, secrets and love- Sophia Rose Click To Tweet
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