So I found Susanna Kearsley a few years ago thanks to a dear friend and roommate. She loved The Winter Sea and as my reading buddy I gave it a try. In less than 24 hours I was raving to all who would listen about how fabulous and wonderful it was. And it is. If you like historical fiction with strong romantic elements go read it. Now. I’ll wait.
Since then I’ve been slowly working my way through her library, but not too quickly as there’s only so many and one must savor favorite authors. For Christmas though I got one of her first works, The Splendour Falls, and I’ve been reading it in those brief moments when my hands are actually free.
The Splendour Falls is the story of Emily Braden. Emily has a cousin, Harry, who is a professor of the Plantagenets, and he convinces her to come with him on a trip to the city of Chinon, France in search of lost treasure by a queen. Emily arrives, but Harry is nowhere to be found, and instead she meets quite a group of colorful characters at the hotel she is staying at. From there you explore the town, the castle, and the folks who she meets all while trying to track down her wayward cousin (with a dash of a murder mystery thrown in as well).
There is tragedy and loss, but also some wonderful romance. Having read so many of her books now this is clearly one of Ms. Kearsley’s earlier works, but is still excellent. She beautifully describes not just our layered and very three dimensional characters (including many smaller ones), but also the town of Chinon and the history that occurred there. This woman knows her stuff and loves history, so it comes shining through on every page.
I adore Ms. Kearsley’s way of winding so many thematic elements into one book. She’s a very romantic author, although not in the “bow chicka bow wow” way, more in the embracing two characters growing connection and relationship kind of way. I’ve always thought of her books more as historical fiction than romance, but really they just run the gambit of it all. So if any of these ideas interest you The Splendour Falls is as good as any other place to start.