What’s it about?
Photographer Lucy Cardwell has recently lost her troubled father, Tom. While sifting through his papers, she finds he’d been researching an uncle she never knew he’d had. Intrigued, she visits her father’s childhood home, the once beautiful Carlyon Manor. She meets an old woman named Beatrice who has an extraordinary story to tell …Growing up in the 1930s, Beatrice plays with the children of Carlyon Manor – especially pretty, blonde Angelina Wincanton, Lucy’s grandmother. Then, one summer at the age of fifteen, she falls in love with a young visitor to the town: Rafe Ashton, whom she rescues from a storm-tossed sea. But the dark clouds of war are gathering, and Beatrice, Rafe, and the Wincantons will all be swept up in the cataclysm of events that follow. Beatrice’s story is a powerful tale of courage and betrayal, spanning from Cornwall to London, and Occupied France, in which friendship and love are tested, and the ramifications reach down the generations. And, as Lucy listens to the tales of the past, she learns a secret that will change everything she has ever known…
Another new author for me for January, yep you guessed it, it was another Christmas present. I’d not come across Rachel Hore before so didn’t know what to expect or if I’d enjoy it but thought I’d give it a go, but actually I enjoyed it once the children had grown up as until that point I struggled.
Lucy’s trying to discover her family history and following a longer than expected stay in Cornwall is introduced to Beatrice. She hopes that Beatrice will be able to give her the information she needs to unlock the key to her families past unaware of the impact it will have on her.
It combines the present day with Beatrice’s flash backs to the 1930’s and 40’s and her life during WW2, the Blitz and Occupied France. I think Beatrice’s character was incredibly brave but in hindsight extremely foolish to put her career before her child, however, as her character was actually based on Violet Szabo and Odette Churchill who were Special Operations Executives (basically spies!) it does make you think that if women hadn’t made these enormous sacrifices during the war how different circumstances could have been.
Without trying to give too much away, Beatrice suffered in more ways than one and you do really feel for her because of what she lost in the long run. When it came to Angelina I think she was quite naive, she had used Beatrice for most of her young adult life and betrayed her in the biggest way possible. Although, she did take in the child whilst Beatrice was away but she obviously had ulterior motives!
There is more of Beatrice’s story than Lucy but she did have more to tell. I did feel that Lucy was just there to allow Beatrice to tell her story but I guess that’s the whole point. If you read it, you’ll see what I mean.
*Spoiler* Unless I missed the explanation I’m not sure why Angelina’s married name was Cardwell and not Ashton. Rafe’s surname is Ashton, Gerald is his brother so this I didn’t understand as ultimately this would have an effect further down the family tree. Did I miss it?
Overall, I liked this book, there’s a good twist which takes the whole book to unravel, there are some lovely descriptions of Cornwall that just make you want to go on holiday so read if you’re a fan of Rachel Hore or like historical novels with a bit of romance chucked in 🙂
Paperback and Kindle version available via Amazon A Gathering Storm