Friday, August 31, 2018

Susanna Kearsley - Bellewether

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.

Comment: I wasn't thinking about reading this book so soon but I've finished reading the list of titles I had scheduled for August and I still had days before September so this is another one I added to my reading list out of plan. Since I love the author's writing, it was certainly not difficult to do it.

In this recently published new book, we meet Charlotte, a museum curator who moved to a new city after the death of her brother. This way, she has a new challenge and she can look after her niece.
In her new job, "Charley" as she is called, is charged with the task of putting in evidence local hero Benjamin Wilde, a man who lived in the 1750s, and the importance of his old house, now turned into the museum.
In the meantime, Charley finds evidence about Benjamin's family members and how decisive they also were to the true story of the facts surrounding the house and those who lived there. Although some people don't want to know it, there some truths to uncover after all this time and the lives of the Wilde family members can be fascinating...

I was quite glad I read this book. It's quite an experience to spend time with a story that captivated you and makes you want to keep reading and this one is all that. The writing is as expected and offers a lot of well thought and executed scenes.
The theme was also interesting as the war between French and British on American soil back in the 18th century isn't something I tend to read about that often.

This is - as expected in something by this author - a dual timed story. We have the story of Charley and what she is going through in present day and we also have the POVs of Lydia Wilde (sister of Benjamin) and of Jean-Phillipe, a Canadian military man who is considered a prisoner of war after the French side loses a battle and who must stay at Wilde's house due to politics.
The three voices of these characters alternately tell us what happens as the secrets of the past are discovered in the present day tale.

As usual, I tend to enjoy one of the sides of the story more and, to not go far from my taste, I liked the present day story better. I guess part of it is natural preference for the heroines of the present this author writes about: shy, reserved, competent but with some vulnerability that makes me feel empathy towards them.
Then, the tale of the past is something that happened and we can't really see how other choices would have worked out, since it's done. It was sweet and fascinating to read about all the things addressed in that part of the book but still not as amazing to me. Plus, one theme is slavery and that really annoys me to no end considering it happened but we can't just change it for better.

Charley is a great heroine and I liked how she acted, how she behaved. It was also cute to see her developing romance with Sam, a constructor working on the Wilde house.
As for Lydia, she is also an interesting woman of her time but I confess I felt she was more distant and not just because of the time settings.

This story provides a lot to learn from, not only about the French-British war and what it entailed exactly for those not directly affected by it, but also about modern day issues like how does a museum work. I liked details about these subjects even if, at times, it wasn't always that interesting to the plot on hand although I can say the author knows what to include and not and most time, everything feels like having a good purpose to have been included.

All in all, a good novel, still not my favorite by her, but very well done and executed. Plus, the cover of this Sourcebook edition is simply perfection!
Grade: 8/10

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