by Susanna Kearsly
Ms. Kearsley is widely known for writing novels that slip from one time period to another. She writes them so well that I could easily imagine her characters – both from the present and the past – walking the same path and at the same time. I don’t know if that makes sense but she does the time slips so seamlessly. And she employs the same methodology with efficacy in her latest novel.
Fair warning: I might be inclined to talk about Lydia and Jean-Phillippe more over Charley and Sam. And that’s just because, the romance between them has one of my favorite dynamics.
Bellewether features two major plot points that I couldn’t get enough of. Often times, I was desperately looking for spare seconds just to get back to the story. I’m a romance reader first and foremost. So Lydia’s and Jean-Philippe’s doomed romance was the proverbial potato chip that I couldn’t stop devouring. I couldn’t read fast enough. In truth, I found myself skipping banal descriptions of places, people, and objects because I was trying to get to the good parts. It’s horrible to admit, for sure. But I know I will read this again in time and will savor their stories when that time comes.
Charley and Sam’s romance was, for the most part, well, regular – for lack of a better word. There weren’t any fireworks to speak of when they met. But that doesn’t mean theirs didn’t produce any as the story goes on. Honestly, I was very focused on her “haunting”, more than anything because like I mentioned above, I was more interested in the other couple.
Back to Lydia and Jean-Phillippe, theirs was not an instant, blatant attraction from the start. Lydia, for the most part, was almost always antagonizing – understandable, considering what she and her family had recently gone through. But Jean-Phillippe had always held her in a quiet regard. I love their rocky start. I love how it culminated into a slow-burning fire.
Ms. Kearsly also writes the best heroines; set in their ways, determined, and fierce. This could not be more obvious with both Lydia and Charley. I love that Lydia spoke her mind as well as Charley. Conversely, they also know when to pick their battles. Jean-Phillippe and Sam are their perfect counterparts. And though, I found their characterizations to be minimal, I had the barest understanding that Ms. Kearsely wanted the focus on Lydia and Charley.
The thing about SK’s books is that you’re always getting more than what you’ve paid for. Her uncanny ability to seamlessly combine two stories is one of her best strength as a writer. Her books are always well-researched and meticulously close to being accurate. Her passion for history shines through and as a reader, I’m always inclined to read up on the topic with which her novel discussed. And I think, as a historical fiction writer, you’ve more than did a great service in educating us if you were able to induce such curiousity.