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Dec 27, 2013

The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley

The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley
Sourcebooks reissue Jan 2014 (originally published 1995)
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for this review
Burton Book Review Rating:Glittery forbidden fruit 4.5 stars

Chinon-chateau of legend, steeped in the history of France and England. It is to Chinon that Emily goes on a long-awaited holiday, to meet her charming but unreliable cousin, Harry. Harry wanted to explore the old town and the castle, where Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, had withstood the siege of Chinon many centuries ago, and where, according to legend, she hid her casket of jewels. But when Emily arrives at her hotel she finds that Harry has disappeared, and as she tries to find him she becomes involved with some of the other guests and learns of a mystery dating from the German occupation during the Second World War. Another Isabelle, a chambermaid at the hotel, fell in love with a German soldier, with tragic results.
Emily becomes increasingly aware of strange tensions, old enmities and new loves; as she explores the city, with its labyrinthine dungeons and tunnels and its ancient secrets, she comes ever closer to the mystery of what happened to both the Isabelles of Chinon's history.

Whenever a title comes up for review by Susanna Kearsley, I jump at the chance. I've also purchased her previous works based on my recent review reads, and The Splendour Falls is indeed a reissue. This novel is a bit of a romance with Kearsley's stellar gothic suspense thing that she has such a fabulous way with, I could probably read Kearsley titles non-stop for months and not be deterred.

The setting is Chinon, where there were legends surrounding the mysteries of two young ladies, centuries apart but both called Isabelle. King John's Isabelle was at Chinon when the castle was under siege, and during the Second World War another Isabelle falls in love with the enemy. Rumors of treasures have our main protagonist Emily chasing after her cousin Harry but she finds more than one mystery to solve before she can be reunited with Harry again. An eclectic group of characters are Emily's fellow travelers whom she meets along the romantic and whimsical adventure in the beautiful setting.

Kearsley didn't disappoint me at all, and this is perfect for those who dream of visiting a castle in France, such as I do. The descriptive writing, the nuances of danger laced with guilty pleasure all come together in a thrilling way as we fall in love with the scenery. I loved the main protagonist and totally wished I could be her during such a delightful adventure.