ARC Book Review: Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley
ashley | I don’t generally gravitate towards historical fiction, but I adore Susanna Kearsley’s books, likely because she mixes the historical romance with a tinge of supernatural and always sweeps me away to a realm somewhere between reality and fantasy. She is an author I keep tabs on, so I was thrilled when Simon and Schuster Canada sent me a copy of her new book, Bellwether.
Bellwether follows the reliable standard for a lot of Kearsley’s books; we have a present day woman somehow stumbling onto a mystery from the past that she has to untangle and figure out. This time around, it’s Charley, a museum curator who joins a team at an old house-turned-museum and dives deep into the star-crossed love story of Lydia Wilde and a French-Canadian soldier name Jean-Phillipe.
I always enjoy Kearsley’s writing and characters. The women are strong and colourful, standing their ground and always very lively. The historical facts are interesting and relevant, but they aren’t overwhelming, which for someone like myself who isn’t totally fixated on history, is a blessing. There’s enough to ignite an interest and perhaps offer a lesson about the events of that era, but not too much as to completely dominate the story itself. She always creates a beautiful balance.
While I enjoyed the story of Ms. Wilde and her Canadian soldier, I wasn’t entirely wooed by this book. I felt that the romances, both the historical and the present, weren’t given enough time to properly blossom and build, like I’ve seen in other books. It seemed like in each case, the characters were harbouring interests and flirting with the concept, and then all of a sudden they were involved. I felt that previous books spent a bit more time in between, building that relationship, and I usually quite enjoyed that.
I also felt that the supernatural element this time around was far too subtle. It didn’t really give a lot of weight to the story, it was meant to be helpful to present day Charley, but she pretty much discovered everything on her own anyway and I think eliminating this aspect from the book wouldn’t have really changed anything significant in it.
As always, this was beautifully written, but I felt like it was a little slow moving and anti-climactic. It was a nice story, but not much really happened other than the romance elements and as I mentioned, I felt those could have been a little more thoroughly explored. But Kearsley does always provide a wonderful balance between fact and fiction, past and present, and I will always gravitate to whatever she puts out.
april 24, 2018