The Splendor Falls
By Susanna Kearsley
1205 – the town of Chinon is beseiged by enemies of King John, and his young Queen calls upon a trusted servant to conceal her treasured jewels.
Emily Braden is intrigued by the medieval story of Queen Isabelle, and cannot resist when her cousin Harry, a historian, suggests a trip to the white-walled town of Chinon, nestling in France’s Loire Valley. But when Harry vanishes and Emily begins to search for him, she stumbles across another intriguing mystery — a second Isabelle, a chambermaid during the Second World War, who had her own tragedy, and her own treasure to hide.
As Emily explores the ancient town of labyrinthine tunnels, old enmities, and new loves, she finds herself drawn ever closer to the mysterious Isabelles and their long-kept secrets. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
I mostly read children’s fiction to know what is going on in my children’s lives with books. The other books I read are bestsellers and fantasy debut authors, with the intent of drawing out their secrets for success. While listening to a podcast (Writing Excuses), I heard about The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley and grabbed it from the library. It was originally published in 1995. She also has secrets for successful writing.
I opened the pages of this delicious book without even knowing the genre. It opens with a scene from the 1200s and flips to a modernish (no cell phones, which is why I added the -ish) era.
Kearsey is a genius, drawing characters and gently leading the reader on the path she desires. I loved Emily, was bemused by Harry, enchanted with Lucie, uneasy around Niel and the gypsy, and half in love with Paul because of his tender nature.
I had four main questions:
- How would the thread with Isabel, King John’s young bride from the 1200s, fit in with the story? She was in so little, and yet, her story was a thread through the tale.
- Who would Emily fall in love with? I was as confused as she was. Who should she trust? Or should she shun all of them?
- Was Harry alive? Right as I was getting anxious about him not showing up, Emily became worried about her cousin and started searching for him. Was this an accident, or has Kearsley led me on this path of concern as well at that precise moment? I honestly don’t know the answer, but it happens about fifty percent through the novel, right when we needed something to propel us forward.
- Who was the murderer? Followed with, and who was murdered? Was there an accidental death? Did I need to worry about Harry? I didn’t know!
I’ll end with saying, I had completely worked out the question to number four. I KNEW who did it, and then I changed my mind and KNEW again. Then I thought, was my first guess right? Oh, dear! Was I wrong three times in a row? How was Kearsley doing this to me? Was it yet another character? So many seem to have tenuous threads leading to them. What is there to do but keep reading?
And so I read, and read, with my heart palpitating with the climax, and happy to wind up the threads to the last word.
What a satisfying novel!
This is what I learned from reading this novel.
- I should read more of Kearsley’s books.
- Drawing the characters in such a way to have us walk the path with the mc is one great way to write a book.
I definitely recommend this book! It’s on my list of favorites.
5 out of 5 stars
If you loved The Splendour Falls, try The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett, The Sherlockian by Graham Moore, and Still Waters by Viveca Sten.