Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rachel Hore - A Gathering Storm

Lucy Cardwell has recently lost her troubled father, Tom. Visiting her father's childhood home, Carlyon Manor, Lucy meets an old woman named Beatrice who has an extraordinary story to tell. 
Growing up in the 1930s, Beatrice plays with the children of Carlyon Manor. Then, one summer at the age of fifteen, she falls in love with a young visitor to the town: Rafe Ashton, whom she rescues from a storm-tossed sea... 
As Lucy listens to the tales of the past, she learns a secret that will change everything she has ever known...


Comment: I got interested in this book because the blurb reminded me of Susanna Kearlsey, an author whose work I enjoy quite a lot. I imagined this book would develop sort of like a book by that author and although this was a new author to me, I was hopeful. This does have similarities to a Kearsley book but it's definitely different where it counts.

In this book we follow Lucy Cardwell, a young British woman who, at the beginning of the book, is traveling near the ancient house that belongs to her paternal family and she has the urge to go and explore the area. She ditches her boyfriend - who no longer feels like a boyfriend anyway - and she stays at an inn where she meets a strange man with whom she starts talking. 
She also tries to find out more about the house where her family lived during the 30s and 40s and she is led to Beatrice, an old woman who met her grandmother and uncles and she has an interesting tale to tell, something that will change Lucy's POV on many things...

I thought about reading this as a buddy read with my friend H., but she is still behind on reading... Still, I like to try because some reads can be quite the gems.
This story is interesting, and it does have the dual time settings that also happen in mrs Kearsley books, so the similarity is there. But this novel focuses not on time travel, simply on two different plots which happened in different years, namely now and in the World War II years.

The "now" setting is England, and Lucy is a young woman still looking for what she wants to do, still investigating her roots. Lucy knows she is near Carlyon Manor, a house which belonged to her family and she feels the curiosity to know more. She then meets Beatrice, who shares a peculiar story, also very personal. However, the parts of the story which focus on Lucy aren't well developed. We never see her change or evolve or anything, so apart from the obvious, I don't know why she should matter. She has a romantic interest but sincerely, everything is too dramatic and underdeveloped for such a quick romance and side story...

Most of the novel is, therefore, focused on the past sections, a tale told by Beatrice. I liked this section because information is told gradually which allows us to get to know the character's quite well. My problem is that the narrative and descriptions aren't as engaging as I imagined. Maybe it's simply the British style of writing which can be distinctive or - and this is my opinion, considering the amount of British authors I've read - the author's style is just a bit boring but I thought some scenes jumped a bit and weren't as cohesive when inserted in the overall plot.

As for the past story itself, it had its moments, I especially liked the details about the central characters when they were younger but as time moved on some actions started to sound silly, even if understandable for the time. Beatrice is the narrator so we see all through her POV, but some of her options just seemed silly, considering the outcome. I mean, when it comes to feelings, some indications are simply that, an idea, a thought... but Beatrice chooses to say things that aren't always well explored later and then...why bother. The purpose of keeping things under a certain aura of mystery doesn't always have an equally intense outcome it what I mean.

Besides, the major discovery we have at the end - which isn't such a big surprise - could so easily be avoided! I understand Beatrice's choices and surely in real life it happened as well, but...Beatrice wasn't put between a rock and hard place, she didn't act because she had no viable choice, she simply decided a course of action at some point on a whim and I can't figure out why she couldn't have thought about things differently, in terms of personal priorities... this means that, to me, she didn't have to choose at all, and the end seems avoidable because of that.

ll in all, this was interesting, some parts were much more interesting that others, but the two timelines don't really merge and I think it's just an excuse for this not to be only an historical fiction story and also the historical section has some issues I don't really appreciate in global terms. Still, it was interesting to have tried the author's work.
Grade: 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment