by Susanna Kearsley
I no longer remember who introduced me to this Canadian/British author, years ago, but I was instantly charmed. Like so many Mary Stewart fans, I’d been yearning for romantic suspense in her style, but there was only so many times I could reread Stewart’s books. First of all, they weren’t available in digital form and I’m spending more and more time reading that way (don’t fault me if you’re still of the paper school; chaçun a son gout and all that), and her books were getting harder and harder to find. When I started to read the Kearsley book I had been given (I think it might have been The Shadowy Horses), I knew I had met Stewart’s successor.
These days, of course, that is more true than a simple blandishment, since Lady Stewart has just passed away. But Splendour Falls reminds me that my first impression was correct. Though this book is one of her earlier works (through one problem or another, her books weren’t available in the US, but they were close by, in Canada; they’re now available through US publisher Sourcebooks) and slower in pace than her later ones, it has the same detailed story, finely shaped characters, and a setting that comes alive (scary!). The setting, Chinon, France, is also that for Mary Stewart’s novel Nine Coaches Waiting, one of my favorites, so that was nice; whereas Stewart’s novel took place for the most part in a mansion in the area and its history had no place in it, Kearsley, as she often does in her books, dives enthusiastically into the local history and works it into the story. I want to go!
When I first found out that she was writing for Sourcebooks and had her books available in the US, I was happy and eager to share my find among my friends. In the end, I ended up buying multiple copies. I bought a digital copy for me, a print copy for me (I was still weaning myself from the print thing), and two copies for friends. And it was worth every penny.
Coming up: WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE, and more!