Lucinda Riley’s first book Hothouse Flower was excellent, her second surpasses that; something which many authors struggle to do.
This is a book where its core theme is love both with the present story and the past story which is told to us by Aurora the girl on the cliff. Aurora opens the story telling us as a readers she is going to tell her story, that of the past and the present and the intervening years and she is going to tell it despite unhappy occurrences and struggles of her many relatives. Immediately Lucinda Riley has you hooked, as there is something ethereal not just about Aurora’s voice but also her character as the story starts to be told.
Grania Ryan has escaped from her wonderful life in New York, walked out on her lifestyle, her sculpting career and her boyfriend after suffering a miscarriage. She does not tell her mother why she has returned to West Cork in Ireland but through her mother’s instinctive love she knows Grania needs protecting. Grania is stubborn and her pride is a strength which at moments in this story could easily become her downfall and was obviously one of the reasons she fled New York. Back across the Atlantic Matt the man she has left is struggling to work out what he has done and his story of love is scattered throughout the book until Aurora remarkably performs the denouement.
Grania escaping from everything meets the girl on the cliff and a bond is formed so quickly and mysteriously that Grania’s mother Kathleen starts to worry even more as this attachment to each other has a place in the past that Kathleen would rather not visit. Then begins the story of the past, the story of war, of the domestic staff, of starting again with nothing but love and becoming something from nothing and the potential of losing it all. As the story unfolds for Grania (and us) the ties that bind Aurora and Grania through their families past come together, in fact Aurora now has a new history which suddenly explains the present and even the future.
This book at over 500 pages long has packed in such a lot that you have to keep reading because once you think you have perhaps worked out how the links of the past come together you learn something else. It is packed with characters past and present who are all relevant to both Aurora and Grania, a family tree is provided but cleverly it comes at the point of the book where we believe we know everything there is to know and then the story is going to follow perhaps a common well written pattern. It does not and Lucinda Riley provides us with more storylines and paths to walk down with Aurora and Grania.
As with Hothouse Flower, the writing is atmospherically eloquent. From the winds blowing on the Irish cliff tops to the dark days in wartime London you are transported there without effort. Even the houses which feature in the book, Dunworley House in Ireland, Cadogan House in London and the loft apartment in New York are uniquely described that you can know exactly where you are at any one point.
The plot if I tried to break it down in a review would actually mean I gave it all away, that is the key to this book it has so much to offer. If you are a fan of romance, historical theme books, contemporary novels, fans of society and those upstairs and downstairs or a fan of all then this is the book you must read this autumn, in fact this is a book you just must read.
There is so much more I want to say about this book that if I had packed it into a review for Amazon then they would probably have been a bit annoyed! But that is what is great about having a blog I can witter on to my heart’s content!
The character of Aurora is so magical that I actually thought at one point she was not real and this book was going in a completely different direction how I wrong was. Grania a lovely Irish Gaelic name has such pride but is so hurt that I would have defied anyone not to have wanted to help protect her in some ways. Matt has the same pride as Grania but neither of them realise it and when Charley appears I wanted to scream as she manipulates Matt for her own end. It always takes a woman to see exactly what another woman is up to, if only I could have stepped in before…..
The characters from the past, Mary was so strong and her relationship with Jeremy was so heart rendering that I shed a few tears. They were not the only tears that I shed in this book, it is so heart warming and sad all at the same time. Grania’s family, her mother Kathleen and her father John are just as important, although it is to be noted that this book is full of strong wilful women. Kathleen through her story of the past which relates to her family and the family of Aurora goes through some sort of closure for Kathleen and realises that the past actions of the relatives of one small child cannot hold up in the present.
In the back of the book, is the first few pages of Lucinda’s new novel The Light Behind the Window. I could not bring myself to start something that I would have to wait a while to finish, so I have closed the book and let it tempt me.
Thank you to Lucinda Riley, the author for sending me this book to review. I will treasure the book and the story. I am hoping that Lucinda will have the chance to pop along to this blog soon and answer some questions so if there is anything you want to know, please let me know.