TITLE: The Splendour Falls
AUTHOR: Susanna Kearsley
PUBLISHER/YEAR: 2012/Allison & Busby (originally 1995/Corgi)
SOURCE: Stolen from a friend
Goodreads / Author's Website
Do any of you have those authors that are just like a cup of coffee and a warm blanket on a cold day? You know what I'm talking about right? Like your go to I'm having a bad day and just really need some comfort kind of author? I'm sure you do, we're all kind of book lovers around here right. Well that's Susanna Kearsley for me. I read Every Secret Thing awhile ago and fell in love and sure, I've had my moments when I thought, well that's that then, relationship over. But I keep going back. This book is why I do. I pretty much loved the mystery, the romance, the setting, the bits of history. So good right!
I think part of my love for this book has to due with me just being in the right mood for an easy to read romance. Stressful times call for feel good kind of books you know. The Splendour Falls pretty much had everything I love in droves. So Emily Braden is a former romantic, current cynic living in a small English town, pretty ordinary life, until her cousin Harry, the Plantagenet expert, drags her along on his trip to Chinon France. But when Emily gets there Harry's hasn't arrived yet. She falls in with the quirky characters at the hotel and so the adventure begins.
Of course there are a couple of potential love matches for Emily. The rich vineyard owner up the way and the quiet, mysterious Neil at the hotel. I liked the romance as a sort of sub plot, but what I really loved is the mystery. I loved loved loved Emily searching this historic town first as an interested tourist and later as a concerned cousin. So Emily's mystery is intertwined with not one but TWO historical ones. First we've got Queen Isabelle who hid some kind of treasure at Chinon as rebels closed in on her castle and then Isabelle the poor chambermaid who had an affair with a German officer during the second world war hid diamonds which had never been found. These three stories just kind of sucked me in.
The characters at the hotel are also wonderful. The young Canadian traveler Paul has to be my favourite, so calm and kind. But each character has a back story and some sort of endearing quality which I loved. They're not necessarily the most well drawn characters, but I can forgive that. The story is told from Emily's perspective and she's just met all of them. This is a book that doesn't need great character development. The plot is intriguing and it just kind of goes along. Don't get me wrong, I love a great character drama, I just didn't need this book to be one.
The other thing that I really loved about this book is the setting. The description of the town was just gorgeous. It's one of those books that makes me go, okay, so I'm packing my bags now to head to a French town a continent away. The castle, the hotel, the streets and tunnels. It was all so appealing. I pretty much need to visit this town now.
There's a reason Sussana Kearsley is on my obviously buy as soon as it's out list. Like I said, there's just something comforting in her books. The strong heroines, the blend of mystery and romance. It sucks me in nearly every single time.