|Cover by Alison Bell|
Many - but by no means all - of my novels, involve very grown up love stories. But with this book, you'll be getting two love stories for the price of one, two parallel stories, past and present.
In present day Scotland, Alys revisits the beautiful (fictional) Hebridean island of Garve after an absence of twenty five years, and finds herself captivated by the antique embroidered casket on display in her hotel. She discovers that it belongs to Donal, her childhood playmate on the island, and soon they resume their old friendship.
|Another ancient McNeill|
But interwoven with the story of their growing love is the darker historical tale of Henrietta Dalrymple, kidnapped by the formidable chieftain, Manus McNeill, and held on Garve against her will and with no inkling of the reason why she has been imprisoned.
With three hundred years separating them, the women are linked by the cabinet and its mysterious contents, by the tug of motherhood and by the magic of the island itself. But Garve has its secrets, past and present. Donal must learn to trust Alys enough to confide in her and, like Henrietta before her, Alys must earn the right to belong.
The island and its people are fictional, but the landscape is very like the landscape of the beautiful little island of Gigha which I know well. I'm told that it seems like Coll too.
I'm always a bit bemused by the reviews of this book since they tend to be wildly differing, even when they're positive (and most of them are positive, thanks to my many lovely readers!) But it's clear from reading them that some readers see it as a tightly, tautly written book with great depths, whereas others see it as a frothy 'guilty pleasure'. In house agent's parlance (real estate if you're reading this in the US) it probably means that the book is 'deceptively simple'.
The truth is that whether you find it deceptively simple or genuinely simple, it doesn't matter, just as long as you enjoy it. I hope, at least, that you believe in Alys and Donal, and in Henrietta and Manus. Because I grew very fond of them, and of Alys's little boy Ben, as well.
It's a book about the present redeeming the past - and also about the ways in which a beautiful and largely unchanging place with an intense history can hold something of the past, even within its present.
One of my readers called it a 'beautifully crafted tapestry of a book' and I'm grateful that s/he understood exactly what I was trying to do in the novel - and took pleasure from reading it. Because it was certainly a great pleasure for me to research and write it!
Why not give it a try at the links below?
You can also visit my website to read a bit more about what I'm working on right now, and find out about my other books, especially my new - and much darker - historical novel, The Physic Garden, which has just been published as an eBook by Saraband, and is due for release in paperback in late March.