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Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley


by Susanna Kearsley

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As in the author’s previous novels, the action moves back and forth between the present day and the past, with parallel heroines facing similar issues and encountering similar romantic possibilities.

In the present day, Charlotte (“Charley”) Van Hoek, 29, has moved from Toronto to Long Island, New York to take care of her niece Rachel after the unexpected early death of Charley’s brother Niels. She also accepted a job as curator of The Wilde House, home of a daring privateer from colonial times, Benjamin Wilde.

In the past, we follow the story of Lydia Wilde, Benjamin’s sister. In fact, Benjamin hardly figures into the story. Charley immediately gets intrigued by Lydia’s story instead. Lydia was a young woman who, according to later stories, fell in love with a French prisoner paroled to their house, and died of a broken heart after her older brother Joseph killed the Frenchman.

When the American Revolution began, Joseph, a loyalist, went north to Oswego, Canada to work in a shipyard. His best friend Moses, who was Rachel’s fiancé, went with him. Moses was killed and Joseph returned home with severe PTSD.

The family was tasked with putting up two French prisoners taken by the English from Fort Niagara to New York. Joseph hated them because they were French, but Lydia fell in love with one of them, Jean-Philippe de Sabran. The story goes that the Jean-Philippe and Lydia were going to run off, but Joseph killed the French officer and then Lydia “just turned her face to the wall and died too, of a broken heart.” The Frenchman supposedly now haunts the mansion and grounds, waiting for Lydia to join him.

Evaluation: The stories in the past and present are consistently engaging, especially because of the parallel similarities. There is plenty of history and romance, and the “ghost story” aspect adds mystery and interest.

An afterword provides more details on the historical characters and circumstances reported in the book. ( )
  nbmars | May 18, 2018 |
ove history and I love a good story. I love Susanna Kearsley’s writing because she combines history with fiction, weaving facts and fiction to produce superb, compelling stories that keep me turning pages until the wee hours, anxious to finish the book yet so sad when it’s done.

Bellewether is yet another delight to sink into, learn a little about the 18th century war between the French and the English in North America and relish delightful characters drawn from both life and the imagination.

Charley is the new curator of the Wilde House museum in Long Island, guiding the board members to restoring the house as authentically as budget and temperaments permit. Whilst she researches the history of the house and it’s family and deals with her own family dynamics we also learn about Lydia Wilde and her family of brothers and father as they make their way in 1760s America. Two French officer prisoners are held on a “parole of honour” at the Wilde family farm, enemy soldiers living in close quarters with a family that has withstood its own war experiences. Kearsley deftly writes of personality conflicts, grieving, war, hardship, family, as lived by all her characters both in the present day and 250 years ago. ( )
  katylit | Apr 29, 2018 |
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley to read in exchange for a fair review. Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley is a stand alone novel.I’m not quite sure I can express how much I loved this book. I can tell you I read all 369 pages of the story in less than 24 hours, that I stayed up 3 hours past my bedtime reading even though I knew I had to get up extra early the next day. That I read it on the bus to work and all my breaks at work because I did not want to put it down. The stories take place in both in present day Long Island and in the past in the same location just at the end of the Seven Years War. The chapters in the present are from the point of view of Charlotte Van Hoek (Charley) who has taken on the responsibility of caring for her grieving niece who’s father Charlotte’s brother recently passed away. She has been hired to curate a small museum at Wilde house the home of revolutionary war hero Benjamin Wilde, captain of the ship Bellewether. The historical portion of the book takes place in the same house and is told from the points of view of Lydia Wilde Benjamin’s sister and Lieutenant Jean-phillipe de Sabran de La Noye a French Canadian Prisoner of war who is billeted at Wilde house. Susanna Kearsley weaves a tale of love and loss, a mystery and a ghost story that leaves you enchanted. I highly recommend this book. Publishing Date April 24, 2018 #Bellewether #NetGalley ( )
  nmgski | Apr 2, 2018 |
Kearsley moves to America for the first time, with this affecting dual story set on Long Island in the present and during the French and Indian War.

Charley De Hoek is the new curator of Wilde House, a small museum on Long Island devoted to the family of Revolutionary War hero Benjamin Wilde and his family. A ghost story from the French and Indian War leads her to investigate Benjamin's sister Lydia and the possibility of a doomed romance with a captive French officer.

The bulk of the story follows Lydia, her family, and the two French officers they are forced to house. The legend that Charley is following is both wrong and right.

Compelling characters and two romances make for a very enjoyable read, with the satisfying ending that I hardly dared hope for. ( )
  readinggeek451 | Jan 29, 2018 |
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