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The Emerald Comb

The Pearl Locket by Kathleen McGurl

imageInheriting a house when your husband is out of work and his redundancy money is quickly dwindling may seem like a dream come true. For Ali, though, her great-aunt’s house brings a wealth of problems. In serious need of renovation and a lot of TLC, Ali and her husband soon wonder if the task is too large to undertake. When writing dating from 1944 is discovered on a wall, the family soon find themselves uncovering a wartime secret that was never intended to be discovered,

Like Kathleen McGurl’s other books, The Emerald Comb and The Daughters of Red Hill Hall, The Pearl locket is set in two time frames, in this case, the present day and World War Two. The two eras intertwine well making the story easy to follow. Often with books of this genre, one setting is more interesting than the other; this was not the case here. The story of Joan and Jack in 1944 and that of Ali and her family in the present day were equally enjoyable and as one chapter ended, I looked forward to the next.

The story of Joan and Jack was incredibly poignant and showed the true cost to the everyday person during World War Two. Although I correctly predicted the fate of both of┬áthese characters, it did not spoil my enjoyment of the story. The parallels between Joan and Kelly, Ali’s daughter, were also interesting, showing how life for young people hasn’t really changed between the two eras.

Another great read from Kathleen McGurl.

 

The Emerald Comb by Kathleen McGurl

51gHd5j42SL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Whilst researching her family history, Katie Smith falls in love with Kingsley House, the crumbling former home of her ancestors, the St Clairs. To her surprise, when the house appears on the market, her husband is very keen to purchase it. As he doesn’t share her love of genealogy, Katie decides to keep her connection to the building secret. This subterfuge ends, however, when a terrible discovery is made and Katie must come to terms with the fact that her family is harbouring a dark secret.

The story is told from the perspectives of two people – Katie in the twenty-first century, and Bartholomew St. Clair in the nineteenth century. Despite being almost 200 years apart, the two stories collide as we discover the truth about Bartholomew, his young wife Georgia Holland and her trusted lady’s maid, Agnes Cutter. Without giving too much away, it is quite apparent early on in the book that Agnes is going to play a larger role than that of just a servant but the extreme measures she takes to secure her needs were a bit of a surprise!

Like Kathleen McGurl’s latest book, The Daughters of Red Hill Hall, there are similarities in the stories that are being told in the past and the present, namely that of disfunctional families and the secrecy surrounding them. It is interesting to see, however, how society has changed in that time and how an indiscretion that happened in the past would be dealt with differently nowadays.

Although the ending does not give complete closure to the story, it is real-life as it is acknowledged that not every genealogical mystery can have a complete conclusion. Enough clues are given, however, to infer that Katie has her own suspicions and I would like to think that she carried on to discover what really happened.

After receiving an advance copy of The Daughters of Red Hill Hall from Net Galley, I was keen to read other books by Kathleen McGurl and I am pleased to say that this one lived up to my expectations. Superbly written with great characterisation, I am looking forward to reading The Pearl Locket next!

The Daughters of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl

Bored with cataloguing boxes of fossils in the museum where she works, Gemma’s curiosity is piqued when she finds, in one of he boxes, a pair of ruby-encrusted duelling pistols. Realising that there must be an interesting history behind the artefact, research takes her back to the year 1838, when two sisters were found shot in the cellar of Red Hill Hall. A tale of intrigue follows and soon Gemma finds that history is repeating itself as the relationship between herself and her best friend, Nat, falls into disrepair. Will Gemma end up like one of the daughters of Red Hill Hall?

This is actually a story within a story as we find out about Gemma’s life alongside the lives of Rebecca and Sarah, the daughters referred to in the title of the book. There are many parallels in their respective stories, not least the idea that there is a perceived inequality felt by two of the characters: Sarah has always felt that Rebecca is the favoured daughter, while Nat appears to harbour an intense jealousy of Gemma due to her stable upbringing. The way both sets of relationships break down dramatically with fateful consequences is a key part of the book, well-written by the author.

The Daughters of Red Hill Hall was an easy read, mainly because it was so enjoyable. This is the first of Kathleen McGurl’s books that I have read but it certainly won’t be the last – the preview chapters from her next book that were included at the end have already whetted my appetite for ‘The Pearl Locket’.

This book was received from Net Galley and Carina in return for an honest review.

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