By: Susanna Kearsley
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.
It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous.
When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war.
Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. And Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily.
Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum.
Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she starts to delve into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not have been telling the whole story…or the whole truth.
Alas, here we are, the last of the Susanna Kearsley novels sitting on my TBR queue. It’s funny, I seem to always read her books around the summertime but they seem perfect for the season. So here we are 🙂
Yup, I was drawn in from the first chapter. Felt kinda Gothic in a way with an old house, a long family history, a doomed romance, and whispers of a ghost haunting the grounds. If you saw my IG story, yup, yup, I’m in, totally in.
The story is told in alternating chapters between the modern day with Charley working at the museum, and the past with Lydia and Jean-Philippe and the chain of events that led them together. I was interested in both stories, Charley as she was dealing with the loss of her brother and left as the guardian to his daughter, as well as Lydia and Jean-Philippe and the situation that they found themselves in. Loss plays a major role in this story, as they are all tackling with different forms of loss: loss of loved ones, loss of freedom. But there is also discovery and recovery in these characters as they deal with the hand they’re dealt with.
It was also interesting to follow the story, trying to figure out what was more to Lydia and Jean-Philippe’s story. The language barrier was made for an interesting hurdle for the two characters; we know what’s going on in their thoughts but how to express it when you can’t communicate in the same language was interesting to read through.
Bellwether was populated with a cast of different characters, some detestable, some pretty awesome in their own way, many with their own flaws and struggles. I overall liked this book more than A Desperate Fortune, I guess because it’s quieter and more introspective, more contained. I don’t know if I would recommend this book as a starting point for Kearsley’s books if you’re a first time reader of her books but I nonetheless enjoyed it.