People disappear. Secrets remain . . .
1940: In south-west Ireland, the young and beautiful Lady Charlotte Rathmore is pronounced dead after she mysteriously disappears by the lake of Blackwater Hall.
In London, on the brink of the Blitz, Nancy Rathmore is grieving Charlotte’s death when a letter arrives containing a secret that she is sworn to keep – one that will change her life for ever.
2019: Disgraced young journalist Ellie Fitzgerald flees Dublin for the safety of rural Kerry. When she discovers a faded letter, tucked inside the pages of an old book from Blackwater Hall, she finds herself drawn in by the mystery of Lady Charlotte’s disappearance, and uncovers a long-buried secret…
When Ellie Fitzgerald returns to her home village of Ballinn in County Kerry all she wants to do is to hide in her mother’s cottage. Both her career and her personal life are in tatters and the last thing she needs is the gossiping tongues of the locals. But when an old friend gives her a box of classic books from Blackwater Hall she finds an old letter which intrigues her. Soon the reader is transported back to the Hall in 1939 when Nancy Rathmore is reluctantly visiting with her husband Teddy, son of Lord Rathmore. Lady Rathmore makes life unbearable for Nancy but her sweet sister-in-law Charlotte is a close friend.
The novel continues, switching between 2019 and wartime London where Nancy is mourning the death of Charlotte, believed drowned after she disappeared by the lake at Blackwater Hall. The experiences of a young woman during the Blitz, while her husband is away fighting, are vividly described and it is a pleasant release to return to Ballinn where Ellie is investigating the disappearance of Charlotte 80 years earlier. The present Lord Rathmore is vague and unhelpful, but she is soon collaborating with Jules, a newcomer to the village, who has started the Ballinn Historical Society.
This time-slip story involves several major strands including the Irish troubles and the awful consequences of war. But most importantly it highlights the role of women throughout the last hundred years, from arranged marriages, to career opportunities and the effect of pregnancy and it also considers aspects of motherhood and understanding between women.
I followed the story wondering how Charlotte’s secret would be revealed but also wishing for a satisfactory outcome to Ellie’s problems and I was not disappointed. An excellent first novel by Amanda Geard.
The Midnight House on Amazon UK