Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore


girlcastleThis is the third book I have read by Santa Montefiore and I can flat out state it won’t be the last. I very much enjoyed The Beekeeper’s Daughter as well as Secrets of the Lighthouse.

Now this book, The Girl in the Castle, captured me immediately. If you like stories set in Ireland, reading a bit of the historical fiction interspersed about the Irish War for Independence and a bit of ghost appearances to boot – you will love this book.

I’m not big on paranormal stories  but the ghost part wasn’t a primary feature.  They did figure in but as a supporting role, and a very light supporting role at that.  Early on I was invested in the progressing life story lines of the Deverill family, Jack O’Leary and the Doyles.

The story starts with Kitty Deverill and Bridie Doyle as 9 year old girls.  Kitty lives a privileged life in the castle and Bridie is the daughter of one of the cooks.  This doesn’t stop them from forming a deep friendship and feeling like they are sisters.  Two different worlds these girls inhabit but Kitty is as Irish as any Doyle or O’Leary.  Kitty’s mother Maude is English and so the family is called Anglo Irish – this sets them apart during the Irish uprising.   There is enough action, a bit of romance and lovely descriptions of West Cork, Ireland to get lost in.

Be warned, this is the exact same book as The Songs of Love in War so don’t purchase both!  The Girl in the Castle is the title released in the USA and Songs of Love and War is the British title.  It’s the same book.

The second book is called The Daughters of Castle Deverill.  I am certainly getting that one on Kindle.  There is a bit of food mentioned in the book and I admit to grabbing a recipe from the cookbook London to pair with this novel. The recipe may be found HERE. I spent some time reading and eating.  That’s a nice thing to do.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton


In this epic book by Australian author Kate Morton we are transported back and forth from present day (2011) to WW II London as two stories merge. Laurel Nicholson is a very successful English actress and she is our main narrator.

We open with Laurel in the year 1961. She is a teenager, daydreaming about escaping her life in the English countryside. She sits in a tree house thinking about her boyfriend while the festivities for a birthday party are starting to get underway. Laurel is the oldest with three younger sisters and one little brother, Gerry. Their mother Dorothy is a wonderful woman., a loving mother and creative storyteller. It’s Gerry’s second birthday party and the family tradition is to cut the cake with a very special knife, red ribbon attached.

From her tree house perch Laurel sees her mother walk toward the house, little Gerry balanced on her hip, as she retrieves the special birthday cake knife. She also notices a man walking up to their rural home, an unusual thing as they don’t get many visitors. As he approaches Dorothy she witnesses her mother look fearful, place the baby behind her in the gravel path, as the man greets her by name. “Hello Dorothy….” Her mother then lifts the knife and plunges it into the man’s chest without any hesitation.

Gerry remains on the ground wailing. Laurel is naturally shocked. No one else sees what happened. The police are called and it’s determined the man was a tramp who had been bothering picnickers recently, clearly a dangerous fellow. But Laurel knows there is more to it as the man addressed her mother by name.

2011: All the siblings, now grown and middle aged plus, gather at their childhood home for their mother’s 90th birthday. It will clearly be the last one as Dorothy is dying. Laurel knows this will be the only opportunity to discover what happened with her mother and the man she killed so many years ago. Dorothy had asked for an old book to be retrieved so she could look at it and within is an old photograph tucked away. The photo depicts two beautiful young women with the inscription Dorothy and Vivian, something that clearly agitates elderly Dorothy. No one has ever heard her speak of a woman named Vivian so there is another mystery. As she gets her mother talking Laurel is given bits of information to research and discover who her mother was and what her life was like before. She’s in for a surprise.

Dorothy’s story is told from multiple perspectives during the WW II era in London. We are introduced to Jimmy Metcalfe and Vivian Jenkins, key characters in this vividly painted story.

The last 20 or so pages bring all the mysteries into play and it’s a very cool ending ( In my opinion). I love Kate Morton books and have read The House at RivertonThe Lake House and The Forgotten Garden. All wonderful stories with mystery throughout and a twisty endings. I love being transported to other countries as it’s armchair traveling for me at this time.

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Roundup

 I had signed up for the book challenge at Shelleyrae's site  Book'd Out  and went for the Nibbler category of six books.  Here'...