Kate Morton is one of my favorites. She writes big fat books with well developed characters. The setting is usually in Australia, England or both. She deftly weaves a story leaving you satisfied with ending. Well….most of the time. She wraps up the mysteries so you have definite conclusions. Perhaps you don’t like how some characters end up but nothing is ever left hanging.
In 1992, letters written in 1941 were found stowed away in an attic. The post man placed the bag of letters and bills in his home and they weren’t discovered until his death in 1992. Imagine a letter delivered 50 years later, the recipient having no ability to respond, lives possibly changed because those communications were adrift. Meredith Burchill is one of the recipients of a letter written 50 years prior by glamorous Juniper Blythe. Merdith’s daughter Edie watches her mother open the letter then break into tears, obviously distraught.
Edie Burchill, a character whom I instantly liked. This is yet another book where one of our characters is a book editor ( an aspiration I had when I was in my teens). Edie ends up moving back home when her lease is up in her Notting Hill flat.
Edie’s mother Meredith is a fussy old thing but she has a very interesting back story. She was an evacuee from London during the war, living in Mildhurst Castle far in the north of England, with the Blythe sisters, three elegant and classy ladies. The three sisters were very different from another. Persephone and Seraphina are twins but they didn’t have the same passions or goals. The head of the household is Raymond Blythe. He is a famous author of The Secrets of the Mudman. When you find the evil inspiration for his story….well, I found it disturbing. Juniper Blythe is the golden haired youngest who picks Meredith as “her evacuee” during the war. They become friends during the billeting, this changing the lives of both.
I made this sound boring but it’s hard to include all the relationship quirks and why they are important. The seduction of this novel, for me, is the old castle and mystery of the origins of the Mudman story. The setting in northern England in WW II, the food mentions are scant but there is of course tea, rock cakes and roasted meat dinners. This was the only one of Morton’s books I hadn’t read so now…..waiting for a few years for her next tome. This wasn’t my favorite, I loved The Forgotten Garden and The Secret Keeper the most of the six books published. Overall a good story with a few surprises at the end.