I want to be an active listener for our next VIRA meeting so I decided to look for a Susanna Kearsley novel. Much to my amazement I found The Splendour Falls, in a basket in my bedroom. Most of the time, I can remember where I’ve purchased a particular book, – Volume One Bookstore in Duncan, Bolen’s in Victoria, or any number of second hand bookstores in my community. But this book magically appeared. I think I was destined to read it. And read it I did. I devoured it. An illness flattened me but I read this novel in a day despite feeling grim. My eyes were hanging out of my head, but what a thrilling journey!
Ms. Kearsley, a Canadian, was an early reader and writer and she kept her passion alive throughout parenthood and various jobs. She studied politics and international development. Her work as a museum curator gave her a critical eye towards informative details. Mariana won the UK’s Catherine Cookson Literary Prize and The Firebird won a 20l4 Rita award.
Her novels include: (in order of publication)
Undertow, The Gemini Game, Mariana, The Splendour Falls, The Shadowy Horses, Named of the Dragon, Season of Storms, Every Secret Thing (written as Emma Cole) The Winter Sea, The Rose Garden, The Firebird, A Desperate Fortune.
The Splendour Falls – Transworld Publishers Limited (1995) reprinted in 2013 by Sourcebooks, Inc.
The back blurb is very invitational and informative.
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 town of Chinon, and promptly disappears – well, that’s Harry for you.
The prologue opens in the past, but Chapter One, flips immediately into the present. I was immediately engaged. What was unexpected was the degree of tension and suspense woven into each chapter. I was invested in Emily. I cared about what was happening to her.
Each chapter ended with a sense of uneasiness or discord, so I was obliged to turn the page. The author has the skill to create an evocative setting – an old castle, hidden tunnels, strange ruins, a raging river, all infused with an aura of tragedy. In this novel, the setting becomes as powerful as a ‘character’ in the story.
With an unexpected death and a maze of plot twists, The Splendour Falls was a powerful novel. I truly enjoyed it.
Have you had the opportunity to read novels by Ms. Kearsley?