A Desperate Fortune
By: Susanna Kearsley
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread-its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal’s cipher. But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal’s reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn’t hold the secrets Sara expects.
It turns out that Mary Dundas wasn’t keeping a record of everyday life, but a first-hand account of her part in a dangerous intrigue. In the first wintry months of 1732, with a scandal gaining steam in London, driving many into bankruptcy and ruin, the man accused of being at its center is concealed among the Jacobites in Paris, with Mary posing as his sister to aid his disguise. When their location is betrayed, they’re forced to put a desperate plan in action, heading south along the road to Rome, protected by the enigmatic Highlander Hugh MacPherson.
As Mary’s tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take…to find the road that will lead her safely home.
Oh man, I’ve had this book on my TBR pile for ages. I guess I put off reading this book because it was focusing on the Jacobites, which I guess I studied to deat at uni so I wasn’t so inclined to read it lol. But it is a Susanna Kearsley book and she writes wonderfully so slowly but surely I finally got around to reading it.
And of course she didn’t disappoint. I was absolutely drawn to the story from the first page, following Sara as she is recruited to decipher a journal. The job brings Sara to France where she’s not only faced with the question of how to decipher the journal but also navigate the new characters entering her life. There’s something about Sara that the book blurb doesn’t talk about that I was surprised to learn when I started reading; it was surprising because I haven’t read of many characters in books that have her condition but at the same time she is unapologetic and she doesn’t let it wholly dictate what she can and cannot do. She’s a wonderful character and I love her budding relationship with Luc (who is all kinds of *le sigh* lol).
The story itself was interesting enough. Admittedly I enjoyed Sara’s story a lot more than Mary’s just because I enjoyed her interactions with all of the characters around her, from her cousin to Luc’s family. With Mary’s storyline I felt for her as she did seem to be so out of place, trying to find her way home or a home for herself and she finds herself in the middle of some political intrigue, just trying to navigate through it all. But ultimately I was more interested in Sara’s story, whether she would end up with Luc, make things work out moving forward in her life and what she wants to do, where her story will intersect with Mary’s.
All in all I was glued to the book, I needed to find out what was going to happen to Sara and Mary next. Not my favourite Kearsley novel per say and not exactly the book I would recommend first to new-time readers but readers of her books wouldn’t be disappointed with this one.