• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 2, 2016)
This incredible debut historical novel—in the tradition of Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson—tells the fascinating story of a young mother who flees her home on the rocky cliffs of Cornwall and the daughter who finds her way back, seeking answers.
Cornwall, 1940. Back in England after the harrowing evacuation at Dunkirk, WWII Red Cross nurse Anna Trenowyth is shocked to learn her adoptive parents Graham and Prue Handley have been killed in an air raid. She desperately needs their advice as she’s been assigned to the military hospital that has set up camp inside her biological mother’s childhood home—Nanreath Hall. Anna was just six-years-old when her mother, Lady Katherine Trenowyth, died. All she has left are vague memories that tease her with clues she can’t unravel. Anna’s assignment to Nanreath Hall could be the chance for her to finally become acquainted with the family she’s never known—and to unbury the truth and secrets surrounding her past.
Cornwall, 1913. In the luxury of pre-WWI England, Lady Katherine Trenowyth is expected to do nothing more than make a smart marriage and have a respectable life. When Simon Halliday, a bohemian painter, enters her world, Katherine begins to question the future that was so carefully laid out for her. Her choices begin to lead her away from the stability of her home and family toward a wild existence of life, art, and love. But as everything begins to fall apart, Katherine finds herself destitute and alone.
As Anna is drawn into her newfound family’s lives and their tangled loyalties, she discovers herself at the center of old heartbreaks and unbearable tragedies, leaving her to decide if the secrets of the past are too dangerous to unearth…and if the family she’s discovered is one she can keep.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff. Thank you to the author, TLC Book Tours and the publisher Harper Collins for giving me the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review of it.
Secrets of Nanreath Hall is a historical fiction novel that is told in the alternating perspectives of a mother (Katherine) and daughter (Anna). Katherine is the daughter of a respectable, wealthy family and is on the brink of womanhood and her coming into her sexuality. Being a “well bred lady” she expected to act a certain way, be demure, and marry a rich, handsome man of her parent’s choosing. Katherine isn’t at all interested in that lifestyle, she has a mind of her own with dreams of her own. After meeting Simon, an apprentice painter, her life is never the same again. Years after her death, her daughter Anna, returns to her mother’s childhood home for her job as a nurse and is thrust into putting the pieces of the puzzle that was her mother’s life together in order to find her own place in an already tumultuous world.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I haven’t read a historical fiction title in awhile and it was nice to read a book in the genre, especially one that was really well written. I loved the delivery of this story in the alternating perspectives of mother and daughter. Anna’s story line is the present and her mother’s story line is the past, although Katherine’s story is delivered as though we were seeing her life in the present. That is really hard to pull off but I thought that this book did that beautifully and it definitely made the story more interesting and layered.
I wasn’t so much a fan of Simon and Katherine’s relationship, although I do understand Katherine’s yearning to live her own life and not have her destiny dictated for her so I see why she decided to leave home if I am coming at the story from that angle. I didn’t so much like the angle of her leaving home to be with Simon. He wasn’t ever a likeable love interest to me. I did find things to enjoy in Katherine’s story line but I definitely think that Anna’s story was what kept me interested in this book. I was intrigued by how society was going to react to her homecoming and how she was going to adjust. I was interested in seeing her uncover the secrets of her mother’s past and how she was going to deal with her PTSD. I found the latter MOST interesting because I have never read a book that dealt in any way with a nurse dealing with PTSD, only soldiers, so that was something fresh for me. Now I’m interested in reading about nurses who have had PTSD.
This was definitely a good book and one that I enjoyed reading it. If you love historical fiction books taking place during WWI and WWII, you may enjoy this book! Four stars!
About Alix Rickloff
Alix Rickloff is a critically acclaimed author of historical and paranormal romance. Her previous novels include the Bligh Family series (Kensington, 2009), the Heirs of Kilronan trilogy (Pocket, 2011), and, as Alexa Egan, the Imnada Brotherhood series (Pocket, 2014). She lives in Chestertown, Maryland, with her husband and three children.