Two weeks ago, I spotlighted Susanna Kearsley on tour to promote Sourcebooks' release of THE SPLENDOUR FALLS (link). The book was originally published in 1995 ... twenty years later, it remains a timeless story. I recently finished reading THE SPLENDOUR FALLS so I offer you my review.
The splendour falls on castle walls ,
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate to Queen Victoria
Susanna Kearsley borrows a verse from Tennyson’s THE PRINCESS to title her book, THE SPLENDOUR FALLS:
An Ancient Castle, a Tragic Love, and a Web of Secrets Begins to Unravel...
Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary own of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that's Harry for you.
As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a "treasure of great price." And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.
As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.
|Château de Chinon|
Public Domain (link)
Grandeur surrounds Château de Chinon - the crowning attraction of a picturesque town along the Vienne River. Chinon captivates Harry Braden, an English historian specializing in Henry II (who resided in Château de Chinon when he ruled the Angevin Empire). He invites his cousin, Emily, long overdue for a holiday, to join him in Chinon as he continues to research (and possibly search) for the Plantagenêt treasure. Emily jumps at the opportunity only to find that "unreliable" Harry doesn't meet her in Chinon. As she waits for her cousin, Emily befriends the other guests at Hotel de France - an American couple exploring the French countryside, two Canadian brothers on an extended holiday, and an Enlgish musician recovering from a hand injury.
This band of brothers, er, companions explore Chinon's charm and legends with the hotel's friendly staff. Along the way, several locals become intrigued by the curious tourists, including a German artist known for his paintings of Chinon, a French gallery owner, and a French wine maker. As Emily enjoys new friendships and flirtations, she wonders if she should worry about her unpredictable cousin. When she grows concerned, she feels a shadowy presence and windy whispers as she walks through Chinon's cobbled streets.
|Original cover from 1995|
Kearsley offers a splendid pilgramage into Chinon's history as seen through the eyes of tourists and lovers alike. Her descriptions of Chinon's charm are spot on - I was ready to book my flight to France. Emily's quick assimilation with the residents of Hotel de France reminded me of my assignment with NATO, where I created a circle of friends with other single officers from English speaking countries (US, Canada, and UK). I understood the immediate connection between Emily and her companions as they soaked up the magical lure of the medieval town. One companion aids Emily in her search for Harry ... and another impedes it. Just when I thought the story reached its climax, Kearsley delivers an unexpected twist to the underlying mystery.
THE SPLENDOUR FALLS serves up the perfect French meal - one that is to be savored with the delicate details created by the celebrated chef. It is the journey, not the destination, that makes THE SPLENDOUR FALLS a tasty treat!
Recommended read for fans of romances laced with history, travel, and mystery. I received a print copy of THE SPLENDOUR FALLS from Sourcebooks for an honest review.
|The splendid falls along to the Road to Hana|
I am giving away a print copy of THE SPLENDOUR FALLS to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,
1. Have you traveled to a place where the focus was on the journey, not the destination? The Road to Hana (on Maui) is such a place - check out my pictures on my travel blog, ALOHA ON MY MIND, at this link.
2. This giveaway is open to all readers.
3. Comments are open through Saturday, February 8, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Sunday, February 9.
Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City
To learn more about Susanna Kearsley and her books, check out her website at susannakearsley.com. Her website includes her journey to Chinon (link).
|The Road to Hana|