A blog dedicated to my opinion on books

Friday, May 26, 2017

"Secrets of Nanreath Hall" by Alix Rickloff

Title: Secrets of Nanreath Hall
Author: Alix Rickloff
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Year: 2016
Genre(s):  historical fiction, romance, coming-of-age
Part of a Series: No

Why I read it: It was part of my book club.

Summary: England is in the middle of fighting World War II and bombs are dropping on London nightly. Anna Trenowyth has just been released after recovering from the nightmarish evacuation at Dunkirk when she discovers her adoptive parents have been killed in the Blitz. They had wanted to talk to her before she takes her new assignment at Nanreath Hall, the home of her long-dead mother’s family. Anna knows very little about her mother, Katherine, and wonders if she’ll find any answers at Nanreath Hall. When she gets there, she finds a cold welcome from her relatives and more mysteries than she was prepared for. As she gets to know her relatives, she wonders if she really wants to know what happened to her mother all those years ago or if it is better off staying buried.

Review: I loved this book. “Lost Amongst the Living” is still my favorite book club book so far, but this is second. Of course, I’m sure none of you are surprised by top two so far are historical fiction books. And in England, too. And it did deal with World War I, though most of the action surrounded World War II.

The book deals with two main characters: Katherine Trenowyth and her daughter Anna. They alternated chapters, with Katherine’s being written in first person. Anna’s, though, were written in third person. This pattern was a bit jarring at first but I got used to it. And there was something revealed at the end that made the pattern make sense. I won’t spoil it—you’ll know it when you read it.

Katherine and Anna are two distinct characters and both are well developed. Katherine is a free-spirit trapped in the stifling world of the British upper class while Anna is more reserved thanks to her experiences in the war. The contrasts between the two is interesting to read, though I didn’t find much in common between them. Maybe I missed something…Anyway, I think I enjoyed Anna’s journey more than Kitty’s, but that was just me. I thought she had the most growth of the two.

The side characters in Anna’s side are also very intriguing. Especially her cousin Hugh and love interest Tony. Hugh is struggling with his injury after being shot down in the war and is on a self-destructive path. Tony, meanwhile, is a more level-headed one who ends up being a good confidant for both Hugh and Anna. He also encouraged her to open up more and perhaps start healing from her own trauma.

Was this story much of a romance? Kinda? Maybe Kitty’s? I’d say it was more of a love story than a romance. While there’s some romance with Anna, it’s toward the end and isn’t the main push of the story. It’s not really the main push of Kitty’s story either, though it features prominently in it.

Ms. Rickloff certainly did her research. She was able to paint each World War differently, just like it had been.She also brought Nanreath Hall to life with her words, painting a fading manor house turned hospital very well.

Bottom line: A very good historical fiction spanning two World Wars.
Sex: Some scenes. Especially in Kitty’s chapters.

Moonlight Musing

Ever feel trapped by your life?  

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