Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies! I read the best book this week by Santa Montefiore: The Girl in the Castle. I've been thinking of my Downton Abbey loving friends: you will love. This. BOOK! Because it's BETTER than Downton Abbey: It's set during the same time period, but in an Irish castle. *le sigh*
About Santa Montefiore
Santa Montefiore was born in England. She went to Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset and studied Spanish and Italian at Exeter University. She has written sixteen bestselling novels, which have been translated into thirty different languages and have sold more than two million copies worldwide. Find out more about Santa at her website, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
About The Girl in the Castle• Paperback: 576 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 27, 2016)
International sensation Santa Montefiore presents the first book in a trilogy that follows three Irish women through the decades of the twentieth century—perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Hazel Gaynor.
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.
This story chronicles the lives and friendships of Kitty, Bridie, and Jack from the time Kitty and Bridie are nine (Jack is a couple of years older) until they're 25. Kitty and Bridie's friendship should be doomed from the start because Kitty is Anglo-Irish and wealthy, and Bridie is her Irish lady's maid. Kitty is a member of the Church of Ireland, and Bridie is Catholic. Both girls are in love with Jack, yet neither confide in the other about her feelings for him. Plus they become adults during the Conscription Crisis of 1918 which snowballs into Sinn Féin's leadership in the Ango-Irish War. Although Kitty aids the rebels and has always considered herself to be Irish, her role in the war isn't enough to save her castle and home.
I love historical fiction, and this time in history is one of my favorites to read about. The historical references are well-researched, and Montefiore's descriptions of Ireland are lyrical. I enjoyed the family drama, and Kitty's ability to overcome her mother's neglect and become such a poised, confident, and accomplished young lady makes the story even more intriguing. For those of you who've read my blog for a long time, you know how I always appreciate stories steeped in lore. There are ghosts in the castle resulting from a centuries-old curse and will-o'-the-wisps...and I had no problem whatsoever maintaining my suspension of disbelief. There were several surprises and cliffhangers at the novel's end, but never fear! This is the first installment in the Deverill Chronicles series. I'm looking forward to book two!
Disclosure: I received an ARC of The Girl in the Castle from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Due to the ghosts' shenanigans in this book, it qualifies for the Gothic Reading Challenge.
If you're interested, I've reviewed two other books by Santa Montefiore on my blog: The French Gardener and The Beekeeper's Daughter.