"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.
Paperback, 512 pages
Expected publication: August 7th 2018 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published August 6th 2018)
This book follows the two timeline historical fiction style that we know of previous Susanna Kearsley writings. The main characters are in the present and intermingle with those in the past. Usually it is a setting or a relative that connects the two. In this novel however, it is only the presence of a ghost that shows itself like a house ghost or a legend told.
“The story of the ghost has been around for generations, and every generation ads their bit to it, but I’ll tell it the way I first heard it from my uncle Walt-the way he heard it at his great-grandfather’s knee, so he said.”
Charley (Charlotte) is a museum curator that just recently moved to Long Island and oversees the historical renovation of the ‘Wilde House’. As she spends more time at this house and the surrounding area, she develops a keen interest in this legend she keeps hearing about that involves Captain Wilde’s sister Lydia and a French soldier, Jean-Philippe.
Piecing together the past and giving justice to historical events and people, she keeps working on unraveling the past through photographs and written documents, until she finds out her life is unraveling at the same time. Could the super handsome contractor that works at the renovation project be part of the reason or did he just happen to be there when she was in need?
“The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew within its walls as long as it stayed standing; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren’t such easy things to keep”
1759, the ‘Bellewether’ was attacked by enemy pirates in the West Indies and brought home barely afloat for repairs. Jean-Philippe de Sabran, a captured French Canadian lieutenant gets billeted into the ‘Wilde’ house, where he isn’t welcome, but he is needed as a worker around the house and farm. As he earns his keep and helps repair the Bellewether, he starts to fall for Lydia. Both of them know, their relationship would never be allowed as tensions during the Seven Year War are heating up and trading agreements are broken across all waters. Loyalties will be challenged and desperation leads to dangerous illegal trading around Hispaniola. As Lydia and Jean-Philippe are faced to overcome insurmountable obstacles, their legend begins to form as tragedy hits….or so it seems.
Charley stumbles upon an important artifact that help her solve the mystery of the two lovers, as well as an important issue: Slaves.
“The ghost had been trying to tell me this, when he’d kept turning my painting around.”
Susanna Kearsley does her research! Combining historical events with characters she learns of during her research, while adding a dash of fiction, create her mysterious novels. The setting by the beach in ‘Bellewether’ was especially alluring with its foggy tantalizing legend that pulls you in to read more. If you enjoy these kind of books, I recommend ‘Marianna’. One of my favorites of hers.
I received a digital copy of 'Bellewether' from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you.