The Stranger by Kate Riordan
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publishing Date: 22nd March 2018
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 320
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction
Buy the Book: Hardcover
ONE OF RED MAGAZINE’S TOP TEN BOOKS . . .
In the hushed hours of the night a woman is taken by the sea.
Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in?
In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall.
Each is looking to escape her past.
But one of them is not there by choice.
As the threat of invasion mounts and the nightly blackouts feel longer and longer, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface.
And no one can predict what their neighbour is capable of . . .
In a house full of strangers, who do you trust?
“The Stranger” was my first novel by Kate Riordan and I was incredibly excited to finally, eventually get her novel in my greedy mittens – I’ve heard tons of great things about this author and it’s not a wonder that I wanted to see for myself what’s so special in her books. And I think that this story is a great start if you, like me, haven’t read Ms Riordan’s novels before.
The story follows three women of different ages, billeted in a house on Cornish coast in the 1940’s in Penhallow Hall, a house perched up on the cliffs. They were land girls, helping feed Britain during the Second World War when young farmers were away fighting. Jane is the youngest and she joined Rose and Diana as last, and it turns out she’s the member of the family owning the house, and it quickly becomes clear that there are some misunderstandings between her and the owners Ms Fox and her daughter Eleanor. Rose was married but her first loved lived at the island. And last but not least, Diana. The girl who’s meddling and stirring and doesn’t let sleeping dogs lie.
The book starts with Diana going missing and then takes us back in time, several weeks, and with each chapter that takes us closer to her disappearance, in a kind of a count – down, we get to know the characters, their backgrounds and history, and start to like or dislike them. I think the author painted Diana in such a way on purpose – a girl with two faces, a girl with a very vulnerable side to her and a girl who wanted everything to be about her, who wormed her way to a friendship, who meddled and used everybody and everything for her own ends. A girl who longed to be liked and accepted but also a girl that pushed people away. Very complex and complicated character and the author really well captured this diversity in her. However, I didn’t like her. I didn’t have compassion on her. I did get when she was coming from but the way she went through life just made me feel antipathy.
It was an incredibly descriptive novel – and I must admit, even though it was beautifully written, in such a gentle way with love to the smallest details, it made reading for me a little bit difficult. It has hidden all the action, put it in the background in my opinion, and it’s a pity, because it was a story with a brilliantly interesting storyline. However, it was also a novel that was hard to put down, guys.
“The Stranger” was a slow burner, but with brilliant descriptions and wonderfully developed characters with a depth and distinctive voices, a story that intertwined lives of different women. The author has managed to easily and effortlessly put all the frustrations, hopes and anger into words. This was a story full of secrets, some of them very dark, with a complex and ambitious storyline. The author had so beautifully captured the atmosphere of the uncertainty and mendacity. She also brought to life the beauty of Cornwall and the setting was one of the best things in this novel, you could so easily picture the sea, the village, the lighthouse. There were many turns on the way and the final twists were really interesting, though I’d say that, in comparison to the tense built – up, it felt too rushed. But altogether, this novel was very interesting and different and I highly recommend it to you all.
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