Book Review

“The Girl in the Castle” by Santa Montefiore

girl-in-the-castleDescription: International sensation Santa Montefiore presents the first book in a trilogy that follows three Irish women through the decades of the twentieth century–perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Hazel Gaynor. Born on the ninth day of the ninth month in the year 1900, Kitty Deverill is special as her grandmother has always told her. Built on the stunning green hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill is Kitty’s beloved home, where many generations of Deverills have also resided. Although she’s Anglo Irish, Kitty’s heart completely belongs to the wild countryside of the Emerald Isle, and her devotion to her Irish Catholic friends Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the castle’s cook, and Jack O’Leary, the vet’s son, is unmatched–even if Jack is always reminding her that she isn’t fully Irish. Still, Jack and Kitty can’t help falling in love although they both know their union faces the greatest obstacles since they are from different worlds. Bridie cherishes her friendship with Kitty, who makes her feel more like her equal than a servant. Yet she can’t help dreaming of someday having all the wealth and glamour Kitty’s station in life affords her. But when she discovers a secret that Kitty has been keeping from her, Bridie finds herself growing resentful toward the girl in the castle who seems to have it all. When the Irish revolt to throw over British rule in Southern Ireland, Jack enlists to fight. Worried for her safety, Jack warns Kitty to keep her distance, but she refuses and throws herself into the cause for Irish liberty, running messages and ammunition between the rebels. But as Kitty soon discovers, her allegiance to her family and her friends will be tested–and when Castle Deverill comes under attack, the only home and life she’s ever known are threatened. A powerful story of love, loyalty, and friendship, The Girl in the Castle is an exquisitely written novel set against the magical, captivating landscape of Ireland.

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Previously released as Songs of Love and War, Santa Montefiore renamed the first novel in an Irish trilogy, The Girl in the Castle for distribution in the US.

A combination of drama and romance, this historical fiction novel is unpredictable until the very last chapter. Beginning with a prologue set in the present, we don’t discover who the little boy might be until the very last page (where we still aren’t 100% certain). After the brief introduction to a dilapidated castle that burned down and years before, we are taken transported to a time when the castle was very much alive with family and intrigue.

Based in Ireland in the 1900s, The Girl in the Castle follows the Deverill family, particularly the youngest daughter Kitty, as she struggles to find her place.

Montefiore does a great job of demonstrating the political and social climate of Ireland in the years before World War I. Personally, I knew a little about the animosity between Ireland and England, but this novel explained a lot more of the background and put a lot of the historical facts into perspective. The battles and espionage surrounding the Anglo-Irish relationship added so much depth to the story and really took center stage throughout the narrative.

Kitty was not really a lonely child, but her best friend was her maid and their mutual friend from the local village became the love of her life. While Kitty’s loyalties never wavered, it was interesting to see how she moved back and forth within society. On the one hand, her family was historically British, despised by the locals for having taken their Irish land. On the other hand, Ireland was the only home Kitty had ever known and the only place she wanted to be.

The book started off extremely slow, describing the minutiae of every person, place, and thing mentioned. There was so much information about so many different aspects that I felt like this volume could’ve been cut into two separate novels and been made into a series rather than a trilogy, but by the time I was halfway through, the tangled web of characters had become so intricately woven that it was hard to put down! I’m definitely looking forward to Santa Montefiore’s next installment!

Make sure to check it out on Goodreads and buy it on Amazon

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About the Author:

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Born in England in 1970, Santa Montefiore grew up on a farm in Hampshire and was educated at Sherborne School for Girls. She read Spanish and Italian at Exeter University and spent much of the 90s in Buenos Aires, where her mother grew up. She converted to Judaism in 1998 and married historian Simon Sebag Montefiore in the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha in London.

Santa Montefiore’s novels have been translated into twenty languages and have sold more than three million copies in England and Europe.

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*I received this ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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