Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Book Review: Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Pages: 448
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story.  Part history, part romance, and all kinds of magic, Susanna Kearsley's latest masterpiece will draw you in and never let you go, even long after you've closed the last page."

Charley's life is turned upside down when her brother dies and now must take care of her teenage niece.  She leaves her former life behind and moves to Millbank, New York.  It's a cute town near the water and filled with history.  Being a bit of a historian herself, she takes a job at the Wilde House Museum and the more she learns about the history of this house, the more things become interesting.  Switch to the historical narratives and readers meet Lydia Wilde, who lives at the Wilde House along with her father and her brothers.  Two captured French soldiers billet at the house, which Lydia thought would be a horrible situation as they are unwanted.  One of the soldiers, Jean-Philippe, is a true gentleman and shows an interest in Lydia. Before we know it, sparks fly between them.  Meanwhile, Charley learns more about the Wilde House and realizes that there are many clues as to what exactly happened to Jean-Philippe and Lydia many years ago.  Susanna Kearsley's latest novel novel, Bellewether, will be appreciated by fans of various narratives that are woven together along with a side of historical fiction.  

Both Charley and Lydia, although from different time periods, were interesting characters in Bellewether. Both had complex relationships with their families and both are well-developed.  I never found myself drawn to one particular narrative over the other.  The third narrative in Bellewether comes from Jean-Philippe and I liked his perspective as it really painted the full picture.  Readers can tell that Kearsley truly researched the time period and what life was like during the 18th century and the French and Indian War as I felt that Jean-Philippe was also well-developed as a French Canadian soldier. 

My main issue with Bellewether was the slow, slow build. There were various points where I put the novel down and I wasn't quite sure if I'd pick it back up.  It took quite sometime to get the story moving and for Charley to start to uncover some secrets surrounding Lydia and Jean-Philippe. During the 18th century portion of the story, it was also slow moving and filled with a lot of mundane everyday activities until things picked up between Lydia and Jean-Philippe.  

Fans of Kearsley know that she always ties in a sort of paranormal presence in her stories and that is true in Bellewether as well.  The mysterious atmosphere of the house is really brought to life, especially when Charley notices a ghostly presence at Wilde House as well as curious objects from the past.  On the same note, I found this aspect of the novel to be a bit predictable in that Kearsley seems to be following somewhat of the same formula time and time again.

Nonetheless, fans of Kearsley will enjoy this tale filled with ghosts, historical homes, romance, and stories woven together through the years.  This isn't my favorite of Kearsley's novels that I have read, but I enjoyed it overall.


  1. I so adore this book! But I definitely agree with you on the slowness.

    1. Yes, I felt like it took quite sometime to get going. I'm glad you agree on that. Other than that, I thought it was an entertaining read. Glad to hear you enjoyed it too. Thanks for visiting, Joy!

  2. I've now read two Kearsley books and while I really liked them, I did notice that they were kind of slow and didn't have a ton of action!

    1. Yeah, my favorite of Kearsley's is The Winter Sea. Did you read that one? I think the other novels don't quite live up to that one. Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  3. I love so many of Kearsley's books. I haven't read this one yet though. The reviews are definitely mixed.


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