Monday, February 8, 2010
Review: The Splendour Falls, by Susanna Kearsley
Original date of publication: 1995
My edition: 1995
Why I decided to read: I’ve read and enjoyed Susanna Kearsley’s other novels
How I acquired my copy: The author generously gave it to me!
When Emily Branon’s cousin Harry suggests a holiday to Chinon, France, she jumps at the opportunity. Harry, a scholar, is “potty for Plantagenets,” and wants to visit the town to do a bit of research. But when Emily arrives in Chinon, she finds that her cousin has disappeared, and she makes the acquaintance of a few foreigners in the town, including a set of brothers from Canada, a German artist, and a violinist. Emily finds herself drawn in by the story of two women named Isabelle—one the wife of King John of England, the other a girl living during WWII, both of whom hid treasures beyond price.
This book is another strong one from Susanna Kearsley, who manages to draw her reader into her story. Having been in contact with the author herself, she’s been influenced by the novels of Mary Stewart, and that’s much in evidence here. Both authors use the settings of their novels as jumping-off places for the story, and feature strong romantic elements and a mystery. Susanna Kearsley’s novels are a little bit more rooted in the history of a place, though, and her plots are a little more grounded in reality. The Splendour Falls is good, escapist reading.
With novels like these, I feel like the narrator or main character should be at least a little bit cynical; that way, the novel ends up being more believable. While I felt that Emily was a cit too skeptical at times, especially about romance, I thought that the plot moved along at a good pace (albeit a bit predictable at times). It’s a little dated too (the author has one of her characters listen to music on a cassette player, but also keep in mind that this book was published 15 years ago). Still, I enjoyed this novel, and I’d recommend any of Kearsley’s novels to anyone who likes to read a good story with well-defined characters.