When Celia Sands arrives at a remote Italian villa to star in the first performance of a deceased playwright's masterpiece, she is instantly drawn to the mysteries surrounding the play -- and to her compelling, compassionate employer.
New York Times, USA Today, and Globe and Mail bestselling author Susanna Kearsley is a former museum curator who loves restoring the lost voices of real people to the page, interweaving romance and historical intrigue with modern adventure.
Her books, published in translation in more than 20 countries, have won the Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, a RITA Award, and National Readers’ Choice Awards, and have finaled for the UK’s Romantic Novel of the Year and the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel.
She lives near Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
(Aka Emma Cole, a pseudonym she used for one novel, Every Secret Thing, a thriller which at the time was intended to be the first of a trilogy featuring heroine Kate Murray, and which may yet be finished, some day. Meantime, Every Secret Thing has been reissued under Kearsley's name, and the Emma Cole pseudonym is no longer in use.)
Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley is a pleasant read if you enjoy suspense novels with a dash of romance and a side helping of spiritualism (Tarot cards, séances and spirits). It's set in the lovely area of Lake Garda, Italy.
Celia Sands is a struggling 22 year old British actress who gets a break: the chance to star in a play in Italy, directed by one of the two men who is a father figure to her. Celia hesitates to take this on for a couple of reasons: She's being required to use her real name rather than her stage name, since she was named after the actress the play was originally written for in the 1920s. And her former roommate's Tarot card reading for Celia promises that terrible events will occur if she goes.
^^ This is a bad news Tarot card indeed.
But in the end the offer to star in the show proves irresistible, so off Celia goes, to the lovely historic estate in Italy where the playwright once lived, and where the play will be staged.
Il Vittoriale, an Italian estate on Lake Garda once owned by a poet, which inspired this novel
She meets the playwright's handsome grandson, an actor and actress who will be in the play with her, the debonair stage manager, and others. Rehearsals for the play are coming along well, with a few hiccups ... but there's something ominous going on.
Season of Storms is an enjoyable read, if not one of Susanna Kearsley's more memorable novels. There's a little bit of a dual plot with a few scenes from the life of the original Italian playwright back in the 1920s, but it's a very minor piece of the overall story. I enjoyed the description of the process of putting together a theater production, which seemed very true to life. Kearsley spends a lot of time describing that process, and all of the beautiful Italian scenery ... which was nice, but possibly some of that time could have been put to better use in creating more well-rounded characters and a more compelling romance. The romance was touching, if unlikely and not terribly intense.
Overall this novel has pretty leisurely pacing (it gets seriously slow at times), and not all of the pieces of the mystery fit together well, IMO. It was a decent read and I didn't have any trouble finishing it, but I probably won't be rereading it.
I didn't think I'd ever meet a Kearsley book that I didn't much like, but sadly, "Season of Storms" was it. Don't get me wrong, it was well written like all Kearsley books, and highly evocative of Mary Stewart with lovely place descriptions. The characters were ok, and the ending had a twist that I wasn't expecting, which was nice.
But I wasn't very interested in the plot involving a young stage actress reprising the main lead in a play written for another young stage actress (with the exact same name) over 70 years earlier, and who had mysteriously disappeared. Acting, plays and theater productions aren't very interesting to me, so it fell flat. In addition, Kearsley's wonderful use of supernatural elements to advance the story was sadly lacking in Season of Storms. I kept waiting for them to play a wider role then they ended up doing, as the attempt was sporatic and dull and never developed into anything significant. Kearsley should have just left them out completely.
Not Kearsley's best to date (read "Mariana" for that), but certainly not awful - just weak.
This is not Susanna Kearsley’s best work, but it is a refuge, a break and a bit of fun. Set in Italy, with lucious and detailed descriptions, a bit of a mystery, and a very subtle romance, it made me think of Mary Stewart without feeling like an imitation, or even derivative for that matter.
This beautiful villa was owned by a poet on Lake Garda in Italy and serves as the inspiration for the setting for this novel. Kearsley describes it so well that you feel that you are walking its corridors and watching play rehearsals in its theater. Her characters are well-defined and I suspect she has been behind the scenes at a play production from the realistic way in which that is presented.
I am a fan of Kearsley’s writing. I like that I know what to expect from her and am never disappointed. While I have liked some of her later work better (this is an early novel, re-released), this was still an immensely enjoyable experience for me and the perfect book to have on hand for a day when I spent most of my time sitting and waiting.
This novel is the story of Celia Sands, a young actress given the lead role in a play written by Italian poet and playright Galeazzo D'Ascanio some seventy years previously. The play - Il Prezzo - was inspired by D'Ascanio's muse and lover, an English actress also named Celia Sands. (The actresses are not related). The first Celia disappeared on the night before the play was due to have its first performance and D'Ascanio's grandson has decided to recreate the play in the outdoor theatre built in the garden of his grandfather's estate on Lake Garda.
I really like some aspects of the novel. Kearsley writes clear, elegant prose. She's good at description and her dialogue reads well. There's a big tick for the scenes set in Venice, one of my favourite cities. There's an equally big tick for locating most of the action in a beautiful villa on Lake Garda. I've not been there, but this novel has placed going there on my to-do list. As a theatre lover, I liked the theatrical references: there's stuff about Shakespeare and about Sophocles, about stagecraft, about blocking and technical rehearsals. I also liked the division of the novel into Acts and scenes rather than chapters. It's a cute device in a novel in which theatre is central. There's also an appealing hero, a couple of very nice dogs and some attractive supporting characters.
However, there's quite a bit on the negative side. Overall, the characterisation is flat. The hero isn't fleshed out nearly enough, the heroine / narrator is a bit young and silly and the villains are in the style of bad melodrama. There are very slight supernatural and mystery elements, which don't really go anywhere. Indeed, the mystery - such as it is - is very pedestrian. In addition, it's one of those novels in which coincidence is piled upon coincidence - to the extent that Kearsley has one of the characters comment on the inherent unlikelihood of part of the narrative. There's also some heavy-handed telegraphing of a not terribly important plot point, which had me repeatedly rolling my eyes.
This is the third novel by Susanna Kearsley which I've read and while I like her work well enough, it seems unlikely that she'll ever blow me away. That said, if I were a novelist, I wouldn't mind being like Susanna Kearsley. She sets her books in beautiful locations and clearly spends time in those locations as part of her research. This presumably gives her a useful tax deduction, even if the novel isn't a bestseller. To me this seems like a very sound business plan for a novelist who likes to travel.
If I didn't love the theatre and Italy, I wouldn't have enjoyed this book all that much. However, the setting, the subject matter and the fact that it's an easy, pleasant read make it worth the three star rating.
This is a bit different from Kearsley's other books, but I still enjoyed it once it got going. I could tell it's one of her earlier works. The past timeline doesn't mesh with the modern one very much. It's not well developed at all, but is presented just through occasional flashbacks. These answer questions for the reader rather than driving towards something that needs to be discovered in the present.
The mystery and all the drama are in the modern time, so this reads more like a contemporary romance (but light on the romance) with a bit of a ghost story. It doesn't really seem to matter what happened to the other actress 70 years ago. It seems like just a backdrop or a side note.
Fans looking for Kearsley's distinctive flavor may find yourselves disappointed unless you alter your expectations beforehand.
This is my sixth novel by Susannah Kearsley, who writes gentle romantic suspense novels that move back and forth between contemporary and historical times. As you all know, I love a good parallel narrative, particularly if it also has a bit of love and danger thrown into the mix. Add a touch of magic, as Susannah Kearsley often does, and I’m a happy camper.
Season of Storms is not her strongest novel. It hasn't challenged The Rose Garden or A Desperate Fortune or Mariana for top-ranking in my affections. However, it is still a very pleasurable and relaxing read, and of course I loved the setting on Lake Garda in Italy (I’ve spent quite a lot of time at Lake Garda, which is one of the key settings for my novel Bitter Greens). The story centres on a young actress named Celia Sands who travels to a villa in Italy to star in the first-ever production of a play written by a now-dead playwright. He wrote the play for his lover – an actress also named Celia Sands – but after her disappearance the play was never performed. The villa is populated by various intriguing characters – a conniving Italian seductress, a flirtatious theatrical producer, a kind but ageing actress, her much younger stud boyfriend, a menacing workman, and – of course – the handsome but inscrutable young owner of the villa. There are also a few rambunctious dogs, which always improves a story, I find.
There is also – maybe – a ghost.
The story contains no surprises whatsoever, but that did not trouble me in the slightest. It’s the kind of warm comfortable read that goes with trackies and slippers and a steaming cup of tea, while rain pelts down outside and you sneak the fire on, even though it’s probably not that cold. Susannah Kearsley is an elegant and intelligent writer, and there’s just enough intrigue to keep me interested without disturbing my pulse rate. And I’ll continue stockpiling her books, in preparation for another rainy miserable day just made for curling up in front of the fire with a cuppa.
I LOVE Susanna Kearsley. LOVE her. This, I did not love. I can echo most of the other low-star reviews: slow start/awkward pacing; forcing a novel into 5 acts; uneven use of paranormal elements, etc. However, I will focus on my main beefs: characters and romance. Warning: Minor spoilers may be ahead.
Biggest problem: Celia. I realize this one of Kearsley's older works, but Celia could have walked straight out of a 1978 Janet Dailey Harlequin. She's in her very early 20s, beautiful and talented but doesn't know it, inexperienced in love/romance/dating, and otherwise just about TSTL. One of her prominent characteristics (and frequent plot device) is the fact that she has no sense of direction and constantly gets lost. She also isn't sure how to operate a computer or stove (granted, she's in a foreign country, but still...) and is all-around helpless. Blech! I do hate me a helpless heroine.
Characterization was very uneven. Some characters were very fleshed out and real, while most were hastily sketched, flat and stereotypical (the grumpy maid; the big, bad man; the villainess; the quirky mystic, and on and on). The most believable relationship was the Celia/Rupert/Bryan family - I actually really enjoyed them. Our hero was randomly in and out, occasionally given a couple of pages of backstory, then put up on a shelf until he was thrust back into a scene.
Which leads me to the romance. Much like a classic serial romance, we have a handsome, worldly, rich, otherwise hazy hero who falls in love inexplicably with the dingy, gorgeous, completely unaware heroine, after sharing almost no time together. There is nothing in Celia to explain Mr. Italian Tycoon falling madly in love with her.
This was so boring. And yet it was boring in an interesting way, because I thought Season of Storms had all the familiar Kearsley elements, but in paper doll form, as if the characters were cutouts tacked onto landscapes, without that final touch to make them live.
I can get more specific and point out that the past was very (very) poorly developed and barely integrated with the present; that the conflict and the villain were choreographed from page one; that the characterization was too slight to compel interest. But mostly: I was bored.
There’s so much about reading Susanna Kearsley that reminds me of reading Mary Stewart’s work. Something about the sense of place (this is so firmly Italy, and the house and its grounds are so easy to imagine), the female heroine, the romance… Except it’s better, because it steers away from some of the colonial and sexist attitudes that were still pretty firmly entrenched in Mary Stewart’s work, despite her independent and reasonably proactive heroines.
And this book especially won me over, because the main character has been brought up by two gay men in a stable, loving relationship. Neither of them are stereotyped, and the relationship feels real, lived in, between both them and the woman who is essentially their daughter. I got more caught up by Roo and Bryan than by Celia and Alex, honestly. I also ended up having a conversation on Twitter with the author about which of various characters I’d want to be my dad… (Well, in reality, no one is better than my dad. But shush.) There’s some serious emotional punches there, which really work because of that warmth and family which Kearsley portrays so well.
The plot itself is reasonably predictable; the trick is that I got involved with the characters.
In the 1920's an actress, Celia Sands became the lover and muse of the playwright Galeazza D'Ascanio. He built the beautiful Il Piacere for her and wrote a play for her to star in . The night before she was supposed to take stage she disappeared. This book is different than the last two Kearsley books I read. This one isn't about time travel or connections with people of the past (well, not sort of.) In this one D'Ascanio's grandson Alex resurrects the play his Grandfather wrote and Celia Sands "same name-different person" books the job in the same role as Celia the First. I loved the historic details about Venice and Kearlsey's descriptions are ethnic and absorbing. On the other hand, this book is slow moving and not a lot of action. There are no ghosts or connections with the past characters (Kearsley's forte) just everyday characters redoing a play in beautiful Italy. There is a mystery spin, but it's not the center of the story. This wasn't my favorite Kearsley book, but it was enjoyable, just not exciting. If you are fan of her's you will like this, but understand this one is not past and present intertwining like her other books.
A lot of mystery and a bit of suspense made this a very good story. It was very different from other books I've read by Susanna Kearsley in that the story set in the past was almost nonexistent. At first I missed the historical part but then the characters and all the mysteries grew on me. I was able to figure out all of the mysteries because the clues are there but that didn't matter because Kearsley's writing always makes the journey so enjoyable. I wasn't sure I would like the theatre parts, but I did. Add in a lovely garden with fountains, a couple of awesome greyhounds, history on the Fourth Crusade and a great love interest and I was quite pleased.
This book isn't bad, it just wasn't what I was hoping for. What I have most enjoyed about Susanna Kearsley novels are the dual timelines, the character driven romances, and her touch of time-travel/magic realism. I found all of these aspects lacking in this particular story making it my least favorite from Susanna Kearsley.
However, I do strongly recommend her as an author. My favorite will probably always be "A Desperate Fortune" although she has quite a few that I've enjoyed. I'm thankful for a co-worker recommending this author to me several years ago.
The premise was interesting enough to keep me reading, but ultimately this book fell flat. I learned about 50 pages in that I could skim or skip the lengthy descriptions of setting and not miss anything important. The characters were one dimensional. Each character was introduced with his or her character flaw and/or quirk and then maintained that personality throughout the book. No changes, no surprises. The villain is the villain, the kind fatherly figure is the kind fatherly figure, the mysterious attractive man continues to be mysterious and attractive. The main character, while likable enough, doesn't really do much. She lets things happen to her and then shrugs them off without much thought. I was really hoping for some twists to the supposed mystery, but the plausible explanations given by characters were always the way that everything happened. Meh.
(Since the time I posted this review on Amazon in 2011, almost all of Kearsley's novels have become available in e-book. That wasn't the case then, so I have a lot of paperbacks of her books on my shelves.)
I started with Kearsley's The Winter Sea and now can't seem to stop. Only availability and used book prices are keeping me from sweeping up all things written by Susanna Kearsley/Emma Cole. If you were a big fan of Mary Stewart some years ago, as I was, Kearsley's books will appeal to you very much. Exotic settings, young/"youngish" heroines, mysteries with a hint of the paranormal, reincarnation and flashbacks to the past, slow-developing romances with a handsome male, it's all there in her books.
In this one, first released in 2001, modern-day aspiring London actress Celia Sands is recruited to act in a play in Italy, a play written in the early 1900s by playwright Galeazzo D'Ascanio for his much younger actress love and muse by the name of Celia Sands (no relation to our modern-day heroine). But just before the play was to open in 1921 or thereabouts, the first Celia mysteriously disappeared. Did she run away or was she murdered?
Our modern-day Celia is asked by the playwright's grandson, Alessandro D'Ascanio, to play the leading role in the first-ever presentation of the play, to be put on at the theater on the grounds of the D'Ascanio estate of Il Piacere. Once Celia is in Italy, she has quite an adventure waiting for her, involving a huge cast of characters, both Italians, Brits and one American. There's skulduggery concerning priceless artefacts at the estate dating from ancient times, lots of romantic intrigue involving any number of characters, interesting tidbits about how one sets about putting on a play, possible ghosts and mysterious happenings, and it's just an all-around good read for fans of romantic suspense. For me, it's almost a 4-star book, in spite of not being as polished as Kearsley's more recent work.
Season of Storms is my third Susanna Kearsley novel, and it was another good one.
During early 1900s Italy, playwright Galeazzo D'Ascanio, living at his villa Il Piascere writes a play for his love, actress Celia Sands. Only to have her disappear the night before the play's premiere.
In the modern day, another actress named Celia Sands (no relation to the first) is offered the part in the play written for Celia the first, a play that has yet to see the light of day. The play will be staged by D'Ascanio's grandson Alessandro, and will take place at the infamous Il Piacere.
At Il Piacere, Celia stays in the original Celia's room, and she can't help but think there's a few ghosts hanging about. And her restless dreams aren't helping, either.
In between rehearsals, Celia gets to know the others involved with the play, including Alessandro D'Ascanio, who is otherwise known as Alex. Alex is the quiet sort, but is obviously taken with Celia. However, there are some roadblocks preventing Celia from reciprocating.
There's a mystery going on, but it's not that big and only comes to light towards the end of the book. If it wasn't for my love of the theatre and for Italy, I can't say how much I would have liked Season of Storms. However, the characters were very engaging and the mysterious atmosphere of Il Piacere, which was located in the Lake District, was infectious.
Season of Storms was a very good and solid story, however The Winter Sea and Mariana remain my favorites.
This book is a re-issue of one written earlier in her career, 2001 I think. It follows a different path than most of her books, and it doesn't have a time travel element per se. Written in a modern gothic style, it is worded eloquently and wonderfully. I sound like a fangirl, and that I am! I see that many didn't enjoy it as much as I did, and I hate that. It's a great book. The mysteries in the storyline aren't that hard to figure out, but I think it was intentionally that way by the author. It didn't lessen my enjoyment of reading it in any way, but maybe it's a personal thing. It has romance as well and a little paranormal activity too:)
I recommend it to SK fans and those who might enjoy a gothic feel in a book.
Celia Sands is an actress who is invited to take part in a production of a play that's been labeled cursed; written by Galeazzo D'Ascanio in the early 1900s for his mistress, also named Celia Sands, the play has never been successfully produced since the earlier Celia's mysterious disappearance just before its premiere. Now, D'Ascanio's grandson wants to put on the play at Galeazzo's villa in northern Italy, but when Celia arrives there, strange things begin to happen. Though I liked the characters and the colorful setting, the pace was slow, up until the rather rushed ending, and the mystery not very interesting. Also, the historical flashbacks didn't add much to the story; I think Kearsley has improved enormously in later books figuring out how to weave past and present together.
Wow. Susanna Kearsley books just keep getting better and better.
This book was a real page turner for me, and I loved that the element of suspense was at the forefront. There are less of the historical details in the alternative storyline in this one, in fact there is less of the alternative story line period than there usually is, but it really suits this story and it's really well done.
If you want a gentle, well written romance with Gothic overtones, and a "mystery" with a nice twist in the tail, then this is the book for you :-).
Susanna is one of my favorite authors ever so it's no surprise that I love this because I love everything she does… that being said, I didn't anticipate being totally freaked out by the ghost story angle. At one point I actually teared up because something scared me so badly. If you're easily scared, don't let me detour you, I'm probably just a giant weenie!
I loved that I got something totally different out of this story than I have out of her other works.
4.5 Stars I enjoyed this book. I would have liked to have had the paranormal element be more prominent. I also would have liked more of the romantic element and the dark and mysterious hero. This started slow and was slow to build, with the ending feeling a bit rushed for me. However, I especially liked the aspect of the theater production inserted in this gothic story. I didn't have the strong emotional reaction that I generally get from this author's books, but I was looking for a gothic type of read, and this was a good and entertaining read.
Storms make trees take deeper roots. - Dolly Parton
SEASON OF STORMS was first published in 2001. Sourcebooks rereleased this title with the following note from Susanna:
This book was first published when emails were rare and nobody I knew owned a cell phone. to update the story's technology would have unraveled the story itself, so I've left the things the way I first wrote them, and hope you'll indulge me.
I won this book last summer during a Sourcebooks promotion. Although I enjoyed other books from Susanna, the book's thickness - 504 pages - intimidated me. Last week, I cracked open the book and I could not put it down. Told from the heroine's perspective, Celia Sands (known as Celia Sullivan in the theater world) is a struggling actress with a dwindling bank account and a roommate moving out. Her roommate gives Celia one last reading from the tarot cards, predicting an adventure wrapped in a mystery. The adventure comes as the leading role in Il Prezzo - The Price. Written by eccentric poet Galeazzo D'Ascanio, the play will be staged on the same theater he built for the play's muse, English actress Celia Sands.
Alessandro D'Ascanio, the poet's grandson, hires Celia on the condition she uses her given name. The fact that the two actresses share the same name will a marketing ploy to spotlight D'Ascanio's restored estate on Lake Garda, Il Piacere del Vecchio, The Pleasures of an Old Man. Celia enjoys a love/hate relationship with the infamous actress. Her feckless mother gave her the actress' name on a whim. As such, modern Celia refers to her namesake as Celia the First.
Modern Celia arrives in Venice with acclaimed director and surrogate father Rupert. They soak up the local sights which influenced D'Ascanio during the Great War. Venice is also where D'Ascanio met Celia the First. As Celia considers how their romance blossomed along the canals, Kearsley plants the seeds of the coming mystery.
The story moves to Lake Garda, where cast and crew meet their host, Alessandro. Half Italian, half English, he asks them to call him Alex but remains distant from his guests. The cast begin rehearsals in the estate's ballroom while Alex overseas the theater's renovations. As storms roll in, Gothic elements seep into the story with missing servants, ghost sightings, and clandestine meetings. The mysterious events only intrigue the merry band of actors. Like true thespians, they immerse themselves in the poet's life by admiring his objects de art, including a chalice stolen by the Fourth Crusade's sacking of Constantinople. They discover secrets about the celebrated poet, his muse, and even themselves.
The absence of today's technology enabled the characters to engage in the lost art of innocent pleasures, such as an afternoon drink on the terrace, lively debate at the dinner table, and reading classics found in the poet's library. Kearsley weaves the stories of Sophocles, the Fourth Crusade, and the Great War into the plot as conversations topics, inspiring the actors to reflect on their own lives.
Recommended read for fans of historical fiction, modern Gothic romance, and Italian culture.
This is tough. Not the typical Susanna Kearsley work by any stretch of the imagination. I thought it was perhaps her first novel, but that was Marianna, which was, in spite of my lack of enthusiasm for it in comparison to The Winter Sea and the exquisite The Rose Garden, vastly superior to this.
I think the device of trying to fit the story into the structure of the 5 acts of the play caused the real problem. The entire first act trip through Venice was dull. What little foreshadow there was didn't seem worth the effort. So many promising elements lost their thread - the tarot, the roommate, etc. Then the second act, which I vaguely recall as creating tension, was again slow to develop. In fact, I almost gave up.
Am I glad I slugged through it? Probably yes, the remaining 3 acts were much better and provided reasonable climax/reversal/denouement (sp?). The prose is still really good. The story is entertaining - once it finally starts in earnest. A lot of the story is fairly predictable - the bad guys were easily identifiable, the big reveal was obvious and the romance was reasonably easy to peg; but there were a couple of surprises.
I gather that after Marianna, Ms. Kearsley experimented with other ideas before going back to a time travel concept. Although this work contains a story from the past, the intertwining is not her usual brilliantly crafted story, multi-era story.
Maybe this is a must-read only for die-hard Susanna Kearsley fans? It does make me leery about running out to get more of her older work.
Season of Storms - G Kearsley, Susanna The author weaves two stories in one. One is about a turn of the century actress, Celia Sands, who mysteriously disappeared, during a torrid affair with her wealthy, married Italian lover, who wrote a play for her. She never had an opportunity to perform the leading role in her lover's masterpiece, however, due to her untimely disappearance. The main story line is about a present day actress of the same name, though no relation, who is called upon to play the role the first Celia Sands was unable to play.
For this role, Ms. Sands is brought to a villa in Italy, which was once the home of the playwright and now belongs to his grandson, Alex. While there, Celia realizes that there are some strange goings on, but does not know why. All soon becomes clear, though it takes many pages for everything to fall into place. There is really nothing too mysterious in this mildly suspenseful novel.
Definitely not her best book. Not much romance or suspense, but pleasant. Very Mary Stewart.
Susannah Kearsley always writes such tasteful books. Season of Storms has a sweet romantic story, love of wonderful foster fathers, overcoming the past, redemption, a ghost, intrigue, murder, theft, history, Italy and I’ll stop there. What more can you want from a book? I loved it!
I've neglected Susanna Kearsley's books for a while, and I find myself very glad to have got back to them. They are very much my kind of books - a modern story, an historical link with a touch of the paranormal, a light romance and a bit of a mystery to solve. They are also very, very reminiscent of Mary Stewart's books, although those are lacking the mild supernatural/paranormal facet Kearsley tends to include.
For some reason I haven't quite identified, this one felt even more "Mary Stewart" to me that others. I bit of that was the smoking - at least two characters here smoked regularly and that included a major plot point - which always surprises me in Stewart books where the characters tend to smoke like chimneys and I always have to remind myself they were written when that was not only acceptable but "cool".
Season of Storms was published in 2001, but it still feels a bit more historical than that, despite the inclusion of email. The main characters still heads to a call box to make a crackly international phone call through an operator for example. I wasted a bit of time trying to figure out if the modern section was supposed to be set before it was written but eventually just went with the flow and enjoyed the story.
The paranormal here is quite light compared to some of Kearsley's other books and it is up to the reader to decide if it is actually real or in the characters' imaginations.
After a day's reflection, I find I have a few issues with how things were or were not resolved but they are authorial choices and not something to spoil the story for me.
This isn't my favourite book by Susanna Kearsley, but it is still one I very much enjoyed.
Great atmosphere, a ghost that doesn’t overwhelm the story, a trademark Kearsley convergence and parallel of past and present timelines, wonderful enigmatic hero, a (mostly!) fearless heroine, a look at families of all shapes and sizes as well as their dynamics and, of course, a lovely bit of history thrown in for good measure.
Note: I particularly love Rupert and Bryan. Two of the best ‘dad’ characters ever to grace the pages of a romance novel IMO. Yes, I cried for Roo. Couldn’t help myself. That’s the glory of reading Kearsley. I am totally immersed in the story and the characters. Always.