Tuesday, January 7, 2014
SPLENDOUR FALLS by Susanna Kearsley
When I first began reading Splendour Falls, by Susanna Kearsley, I was initially disappointed, as I am wont to be, when I find that one of her books is not set in Scotland. But, there was King John and Queen Isabelle and siege and intrigue and hidden treasure. And, as with Kearsley’s other books that take place outside Scotland, I was wont to very quickly forget about Caledonia and became fully engrossed in the particular setting of this novel. With Splendour Falls, it was not long before I wanted to book travel to Chinon.
Britisher Emily Braden, whose cousin, Harry, was a Plantagenet scholar, was persuaded by Harry to take a vacation and meet him in Chinon. However, Harry, true to form, was not very reliable.
Despite his promise, King John did not come for Isabelle during the siege; despite his promise, Harry did not meet Emily’s train on her journey to Chinon. John, however, did send a knight to rescue Isabelle; Harry, on the other hand, simply neglected to show at the agreed upon time and place. Perhaps Emily was right: Prince Charmings no longer existed.
But John’s young wife was not the only Isabelle of intrigue in Chinon’s history; another Isabelle, in another historical time, was also shrouded in mystery. Although Emily had known of King John and Queen Isabelle, she was unaware of all that was hidden in Chinon – hidden in its history or hidden in the many tunnels running underneath it. It did not take long, however, for her to become ensconced in the complexities and intrigues of its people and its history.
As always, Kearsley’s characters are wonderfully developed, complex, and fascinating. The interweaving of their lives – especially on the Chinon backdrop – is masterful. The story is very compelling; more often than not, I reached the end of a chapter and decided to read just one more – until, of course, I reached the end of that next chapter.
Chinon teems with history. And, along with that history, there is magic everywhere. Perhaps, Emily, there are Prince Charmings after all!