by Susanna Kearsley
Genres: Historical Fiction, Suspense
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
"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.
[bctt tweet=”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” username=”kimbacaffeinate”]
Yes, I want everything in that tweet Sophia! Sounds like a great book!
I am always impressed how Kearsley blends a modern tale with a historical romance. I need to read more of her stories.
Thanks for sharing!
Yes, she transfers between the two nearly seamlessly. I love that, too. You’re welcome, Martha!
I am so glad!! ? Love all of your recommendations…thank you!
Sure thing! Glad to help, Anna! 🙂
Yes I want this thanks to your review 🙂
Ah, shucks! And I want the President is Missing thanks to your review. LOL
Anna @ Read and Repeat
I got this book from Netgalley /ages/ ago and read a chapter or two before getting busy and forgetting all about it! I really need to give it another go apparently 😉
LOL! I have done that, Anna. Glad to help prod your memory for it. It is a slow starter, but it does eventually get going.
I love that this is a well-researched and detailed novel. I appreciate those aspects a lot in historical fiction 🙂
Yes! Even though it is fiction, I still like it to be somewhat authentic, too. 🙂
This is the first I am hearing of this author. This is not a genre I readily gravitate towards, but this sounds real good.
Glad to introduce you, Nadene. She does have a bit of a niche writing style with her historical fiction/romantic suspense crossover books. I only discovered her two years ago and still have plenty of her books to read.
I’ve seen this a bit lately. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but with the addition of suspense I might like this one. Glad you enjoyed it so much. Anne – Books of My Heart
Glad I could catch your eye with it, but fair warning, the suspense isn’t action-packed. 🙂 Thanks, Anne!
I really enjoy this kind of dual narrative and it sounds a cracking read. Thank you so much for a great review:)
It’s not always my thing, but I thought she did a fab job with it in this book. Hope you like it if you get the chance. Thanks, SJ! 🙂
“Part history, part romance, and all kinds of magic” — all elements of a story that I find intriguing. Thanks for the post!
Yes, it was definitely a heady blend, Angela. 🙂
Amy M Ermie
I read a review earlier this summer that wasn’t overwhelmingly positive, so I am encourage by this one. I have this in my TBR and was so excited for its release. Thanks for the review, though my TBR pile is not feeling very gracious. 🙂
After I wrote up my review, I read some of those, too. I could see some of their points while others, it felt like we read a different book. LOL To each their own. Glad I could encourage you to give it a try, Amy. 🙂
Amy M Ermie
Thanks again! Admittedly, I fell in love with the cover before anything else.
I have to agree with you about the dual narratives, I’m not usually a fan; however, have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? This dual narrative blew me away.
I haven’t, but it comes highly recommended so I will read it eventually. Good to know that you loved the narration threads.
Well researched and full of magic. I like the sound of that, Kim!
It is a great combo, Laura. 🙂
I have this book on hold at the library. Looking forward to reading it even more after your review, Sophia. I like the sound of the dual time lines, and I am sure I will enjoy the past more as well. I can’t even think of the last time I read a Colonial Period book.
Sounds like you are in for a treat, Heidi. 🙂 Yay for a fellow history buff!
I haven’t read anything by this author (yet), but Bellewether caught my attention a few weeks ago. The cover is magical! I’m glad you could tell the author had done their research, because I feel like that makes stories feel more authentic. A slower-paced book might not be perfect for me, but I’m willing to try!
Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?
Her writing style is definitely not action-packed or thriller fast, but there are some definite suspense and mystery with her well researched history. Hope you end up liking it if you get the chance, Lindsi!
The cover is very nice. I love blue and trees, so it hit some buttons with me. The first sentence of the blurb was enough to hook me, but you review sealed the deal. 🙂
Haha! Glad to push a good one on you, Sherry. It definitely is a lovely cover and a captivating blurb.
I’ve never read anything by this author, but I’m so glad to hear you liked it! It’s nice when dual timelines and multiple POV’s all work well too.
Yes! Sometimes all that does not work for me, but with Kearsley’s books I can do it and love it. 🙂
Angel's Guilty Pleasures
Nice review and glad to see you enjoyed this one.
Thanks, Angel. She’s a favorite author.
awww.. let me have a happy ending! nice review rose
I love her happy endings because it always looks bleak for the couple until the very last minute. 🙂 Thanks, Ailyn!
Yay! I adore this author and just noticed she had a new release out the other day and was hoping it would be fantastic. You have me excited to pick this one up now!
I get excited when I see a new release from her, too. I barely waited to read this one after I got approved for the ARC. 🙂
I was just looking at this cover the other day and thinking how pretty it was! I like books with dual timelines and this one sounds particularly fascinating. I like that it’s obvious the author did a ton of research.
It is a gorgeous cover. I definitely want a print copy.
Yes, I love that she writes the dual timelines and how she brings history to life.
Jenea's Book Obsession
This is a new one to me and I think it sounds sooo amazing!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.
Yay, glad to put you on to one that grabs your fancy, Jenea! 🙂
I haven’t read nor have anything by this author, I will check it out, thanks. I LOVE the theme going on here, how cute is the wee cups of coffee! xxx
Oh cool! Glad to introduce you to a new author, Lainy.
Yes, Kimberly’s blog theme is adorable. 🙂
I have a book by this author that I really need to try
LOL, you have a large TBR stack like me. Hope you like it when you get the chance, Melliane!