Part One of a trilogy
"1891. Spindrift House, Cornwall. Talented painter Edith Fairchild is poised to begin a life of newlywed bliss and artistic creation in the inspiring setting of Spindrift House, freshly inherited by her charming husband, Benedict, and overlooking the stunning harbour of Port Isaac. But when her honeymoon turns sour, her dreams are all but dashed and after a moment of madness and desire she finds herself pregnant with another man's child. Edith swears never to tell her secret and devotes herself to her art. Joined at Spindrift House by her friends - Clarissa, Dora and the secret father of her child, Pascal - together they turn the house into a budding artists' community. But despite their dreams of an idyllic way of life creating beauty by the sea, it becomes clear that all is not perfect within their tight-knit community, and that the weight of their secrets could threaten to tear apart their paradise forever..."
What an engrossing read! The small group of artistic friends who take up residence at Spindrift House in Cornwall are intriguing and fascinating people – the newlywed couple, Edith and Benedict, whose marriage is soon on the Cornish rocks, and then their student friends, Clarissa, Dora, Wilfred and Pascal. There is more to Pascal, however, than we first realise... although there is actually more to all the characters, as we discover as the story and their backstories, unfold.
Add into the trauma of the collapsing marriage, several secrets, an unexpected pregnancy, the Bohemian lifestyle of hopeful young artists, a deceased aunt, a dubiously inherited property, the jealous son of a lover and the difficulties encountered by Victorian women who were powerless against the law and society, and you have a highly compelling, engrossing read.
This is not a fast-paced, hold-your-breath read, rather, it is a steady pace with some likeable characters and a few you will loathe – villains with their perhaps somewhat over-dramatised roles. There is a little too much of a non-Victorian, modernistic feel to events - conversations and expectations - that creeps in every so often, but this did not spoil the story, and maybe I am being a little picky to mention it.
The story did end somewhat abruptly – but – this is the first part of a trilogy, so a ‘cliffhanger’ is quite acceptable. A good read. I look forward to part two.
© Anne Holt