Monday, December 12, 2016

Book Review: The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore

Pages: 576
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Born on the ninth day of the ninth month in the year 1900, Kitty Deverill is special as her grandmother has always told her. Built on the stunning green hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill is Kitty’s beloved home, where many generations of Deverills have also resided. Although she’s Anglo-Irish, Kitty’s heart completely belongs to the wild countryside of the Emerald Isle, and her devotion to her Irish-Catholic friends Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the castle’s cook, and Jack O’Leary, the vet’s son, is unmatched—even if Jack is always reminding her that she isn’t fully Irish. Still, Jack and Kitty can’t help falling in love although they both know their union faces the greatest obstacles since they are from different worlds.  Bridie cherishes her friendship with Kitty, who makes her feel more like her equal than a servant. Yet she can’t help dreaming of someday having all the wealth and glamour Kitty’s station in life affords her. But when she discovers a secret that Kitty has been keeping from her, Bridie finds herself growing resentful toward the girl in the castle who seems to have it all.  When the Irish revolt to throw over British rule in Southern Ireland, Jack enlists to fight. Worried for her safety, Jack warns Kitty to keep her distance, but she refuses and throws herself into the cause for Irish liberty, running messages and ammunition between the rebels. But as Kitty soon discovers, her allegiance to her family and her friends will be tested—and when Castle Deverill comes under attack, the only home and life she’s ever known are threatened.  A powerful story of love, loyalty, and friendship, The Girl in the Castle is an exquisitely written novel set against the magical, captivating landscape of Ireland."

It's the early 20th century in beautiful Ireland, but it's a turbulent time for both the Irish and the Anglo-Irish.  Kitty Deverill is a the youngest daughter of Lord and Lady Deverill and she lives in a beautiful castle in County Cork.  But instead of being adored as the baby of her family, she is ignored and cast aside for her nanny to deal with.  Thankfully Kitty has a best friend in Bridie, whose family works for the Deverills.  She probably shouldn't be associating with a Catholic village girl, but her mother barely pays attention to her and actually resents her.  Because of this, Kitty considers herself completely Irish and sides with them on all accounts even when the Irish revolt against the British rule.  Things for Bridie change as well as the women get older; she realizes the vast differences between Kitty's world and her own, even if they are best friends.  Santa Montefiore's The Girl in the Castle is a spellbinding saga that fans of historical fiction as well as Irish fiction will adore.  

I absolutely loved Kitty from the beginning of The Girl in the Castle. I despised her mother and the way she treated her, but I knew that there must be a secret as to why Lady Deverill acts the way she does. Slowly the truth emerges, but nonetheless, Kitty endured a lonely childhood.  One thing she always had was a strong relationship with Bridie and Jack, two local Irish children.  This obviously impacted her childhood and explains why Kitty considers herself Irish and not Anglo-Irish like the rest of the Deverills.  As Kitty grows up, she truly comes into her own and no one can stifle her fiery personality.  She has plans to help the Irish despite the fact that many people in the village think she is for the other side.  This puts her in many precarious situations as tensions brew in Ireland.

Bridie, on the other hand, sort of irked me in The Girl in the Castle. I felt badly for her and her situation as Kitty's family's servant, but she made some poor choices in this novel.  Things get sticky for her as she puts herself in some compromising situations; nonetheless, she picks herself up and is able to move on quite well. Even though she annoyed me at times, my heart did break for her many times in the novel.

The best part of The Girl in the Castle is Montefiore's descriptions of not only Ireland but the tumultuous time period.  Fans of WWI as well as Kate Morton will appreciate the historical tourism in this novel.  I loved learning more about what the Irish went through and how it impacted them for centuries. Kitty's family might not be safe in Ireland, so she must figure out where her true loyalties lie. With the Irish or with her family? Also, the beautiful Irish landscape was a world I loved to be lost in, especially the gorgeous Deverill Castle.  Montefiore also takes us to glamorous London and even America as the women continue their journeys. 

The secondary characters in The Girl in the Castle were fantastic as well. I adored Kitty's grandmother and her relationship with her.  The cast of characters in the castle as well as the Deverill extended family were all very memorable. I especially appreciated Kitty's older brother and Celia, Kitty's cousin from London. Montefiore's characters are all flawed, but I still genuinely cared about them and their stories.

This is truly a family saga and if that is something you enjoy, you'll definitely want to get a copy of The Girl in the Castle. It's one of my favorite historical novels of the year and I am thrilled that it's part of a trilogy.  The next installment, The Daughter of the Castle, is due out next summer and I can't wait to revisit the Deverills. 



2 comments:

  1. This sounds wonderful! I will definitely be picking up a copy. I want to learn more about this time period in Ireland too. I remember Branson's comments about the situation in Ireland from Downton Abbey. Great review! Thanks for making me aware of this book :)

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    Replies
    1. I think you'd like it for sure, Christina! Yes, Branson's comments about Ireland are spot on. In fact, if you enjoyed DA, you'll definitely like this book. Thanks for visiting, Christina!

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