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Bellewether

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Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets. It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous. When captur Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets. It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous. When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war. Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily. Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum. Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she starts to delve into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not have been telling the whole story...or the whole truth.


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Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets. It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous. When captur Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets. It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous. When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war. Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily. Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum. Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she starts to delve into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not have been telling the whole story...or the whole truth.

30 review for Bellewether

  1. 5 out of 5

    Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies

    Holy crap, it is so boring. I've read Kearsley before, but not for a few years. I don't remember the rest being as bad as this one. I wouldn't say it was BAD bad, just so long and dull. The story is told from 3 POVs, 2 historical, 1 present, and they are all awful. The narratives ramble on and on and on about their lives and stuff and there's this mystery with no buildup. Like literally, no buildup. I confess, I DNFed it at like 70% and I have no desire to continue because there's like no relatio Holy crap, it is so boring. I've read Kearsley before, but not for a few years. I don't remember the rest being as bad as this one. I wouldn't say it was BAD bad, just so long and dull. The story is told from 3 POVs, 2 historical, 1 present, and they are all awful. The narratives ramble on and on and on about their lives and stuff and there's this mystery with no buildup. Like literally, no buildup. I confess, I DNFed it at like 70% and I have no desire to continue because there's like no relationship building between the two narrators (who are supposed to eventually be lovers or something?) god knows because at 70% THEY ARE STILL BARELY TALKING TO EACH OTHER. It is awful. Don't waste your money.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    3.33 stars. Full review, first posted on Fantasy Literature: Susanna Kearsley is a popular Canadian novelist who writes historical fiction, favoring the dual-timeline model with a current plotline and a historical one that intersect in one way or another. Her novels are generally spiced with a mystery, a romance (or perhaps two, one in each of the timelines) … and a paranormal element, such as time travel, ghostly spirits, or a character with psychic abilities. Bellewether, Kearsley’s first novel 3.33 stars. Full review, first posted on Fantasy Literature: Susanna Kearsley is a popular Canadian novelist who writes historical fiction, favoring the dual-timeline model with a current plotline and a historical one that intersect in one way or another. Her novels are generally spiced with a mystery, a romance (or perhaps two, one in each of the timelines) … and a paranormal element, such as time travel, ghostly spirits, or a character with psychic abilities. Bellewether, Kearsley’s first novel in three years, is of the dual-timeline model. The historical plotline, set in about 1760, alternates between the points of view of Lydia Wilde and Jean-Philippe de Sabran, a French Canadian lieutenant who was captured during the French and Indian War (part of the Seven Years’ War) and is now billeted at Lydia’s Long Island home along with another French officer. Jean-Philippe speaks no English and Lydia ― for good reason ― carries a deep prejudice against Frenchmen and their military in particular, but neither of these things stop Jean-Philippe and Lydia from noticing each other. In modern times, the story follows Charlotte (Charley) van Hoek, a museum curator who has moved up to the town of Millbank on the north shore of Long Island, to be with her grieving niece. In Millbank, the home of her ancestors (and where Charley’s estranged grandmother still lives), Charley also finds a welcome job as curator for the Wilde House, the Wilde's ancestral home now turned museum, though there are a few museum trustees who opposed her hiring and are still looking to make life difficult for Charley. Charley begins researching the Wilde family history, and becomes particularly interested in the story of Lydia and her rumored romance with a French prisoner of war. Local legend has it that the Frenchman was going to run away with Lydia but was killed by Lydia’s brother, and that his spirit now haunts the Wilde House. Charley, of course, doesn’t believe in ghosts. But then some inexplicable things start to happen … Bellewether is meticulously researched and clearly a labor of love for Kearsley, who incorporates several elements of her own family history into this novel, which she explains in a detailed afterword. Bellewether deals sensitively with issues like slavery and racial and national prejudice. The Wilde family keeps a teenaged black slave, Violet, which initially deeply offends Jean-Philippe, who has his own reasons for hating slavery, but it soon becomes clear that Violet’s history and situation are complicated. I found Bellewether interesting but oddly placid. One might think that a novel including a centuries-old mystery, wartime romances and conflicts, and ghostly dealings would be gripping, but the characters always feel somewhat distant and the novel rather long-winded and slow-paced. It just never fully captured my heart or imagination. Everything works out suspiciously easily and neatly, and there’s very little intensity in any of the interpersonal relationships, including the understated, slow-burn romances in both timelines. The title Bellewether is from the name of a beautiful, swift ship owned by Lydia’s brother. It’s nicely evocative, but a bit of stretch to name the novel after this ship, which plays only a minor role in the plot. With just a little imagination, though, one might envision a particular member of Lydia’s family is playing the role of a bellwether sheep, the leader of the flock. And that’s all I’m going to say about that! Bellewether is a worthy, respectable novel, if you enjoy cozy, deliberately-paced historical reads with just a dash of romance and the supernatural. I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher and NetGalley for review. Thank you!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ava Brightly ☕

    Without a description, without any information, Im ready to preorder. Ms. Kearsley is that good.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review. April 24th, as I stated in my reviews of both Come from Away and The Husband Hour is going to be an epic day for all of us Canadian book readers and now I have to add Bellewether to that book buying list. This is my 10th Susanna Kearsley in a five year period and let me tell you that this Canadian novelist is a powerhouse that you cannot afford to pass by. Meticulously researched, this triple narrative that volleys read Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review. April 24th, as I stated in my reviews of both Come from Away and The Husband Hour is going to be an epic day for all of us Canadian book readers and now I have to add Bellewether to that book buying list. This is my 10th Susanna Kearsley in a five year period and let me tell you that this Canadian novelist is a powerhouse that you cannot afford to pass by. Meticulously researched, this triple narrative that volleys readers between the contemporary period and the 18th century is a highly recommended historical fiction.I absolutely loved the characters and didn't feel that the dual timelines tried to hijack one another as both were very fascinating. If I had one quibble about the story, it is the feeling that SK had a difficult time wrapping up the story because I had a hard time as a reader trying to say goodbye to Lydia, Jean-Phillippe, and Charley. Highly recommended!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Powerful, absorbing, and incredibly fascinating! Bellewether is an enthralling tale set on the eastern shores of Long Island during the late 1750s, as well as present day, and is told from three different perspectives. Lydia, a strong, hardworking young woman struggling to care and support those she loves in a time of uncertainty and upheaval. Jean-Philippe, a French-Canadian soldier who finds himself captured and a parole of honour in the final pivotal days of the Seven Years' War. And Charley,  Powerful, absorbing, and incredibly fascinating! Bellewether is an enthralling tale set on the eastern shores of Long Island during the late 1750s, as well as present day, and is told from three different perspectives. Lydia, a strong, hardworking young woman struggling to care and support those she loves in a time of uncertainty and upheaval. Jean-Philippe, a French-Canadian soldier who finds himself captured and a parole of honour in the final pivotal days of the Seven Years' War. And Charley, an intelligent, independent woman determined to discover all the skeletons hidden inside the Wilde House, as well as her own. The prose is eloquent and expressive. The characters are alluring, sympathetic, multi-layered, and authentic. And the plot is a sweeping saga filled with familial drama, introspection, love, loss, grief, mystique, heartbreak, romance, secrets, passion, loyalty, as well as a little peek into a war that had a tremendous impact on the culture and history of Canada as we know it today. Bellewether is a beautifully written, exceptionally atmospheric novel that transports you to another time and place and immerses you so thoroughly into the personalities, feelings, and lives of the characters you never want it to end. It is without a doubt one of my favourite novels of the year that once again highlights Kearsley's extraordinary imagination and talent as a masterful storyteller and researcher. Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. All my reviews can be found on my blog at https://whatsbetterthanbooks.com

  6. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Considering how almost absolutely nothing happens in this book, I surprisingly liked it while I was reading it. It was only when it ended, and well, I realized I just read a whole lotta' nothin', that I decided I couldn't rate this higher than three stars. Susana Kearsley has a formula that she uses for every.single.book. It goes like this: - Two main narrators, both female - The female narrators live in different time periods - One of the female narrators is somehow doing some kind of research that Considering how almost absolutely nothing happens in this book, I surprisingly liked it while I was reading it. It was only when it ended, and well, I realized I just read a whole lotta' nothin', that I decided I couldn't rate this higher than three stars. Susana Kearsley has a formula that she uses for every.single.book. It goes like this: - Two main narrators, both female - The female narrators live in different time periods - One of the female narrators is somehow doing some kind of research that eventually involves the long ago deceased second narrator - Both narrators experience some kind of romance - The narrations flip back and forth, both moving forward in time until they somehow connect Now, I am not knocking Kearsley's formula, because I have really liked the three other books of hers that I have read so far. And despite it's formula this book felt real - there's definitely no insta-love, the characters were three dimensional, the setting and time periods were distinct. But the plot, the plot is where things went wrong. NOTHING HAPPENS. I mean sure, there was finding of historical furniture and fundraisers in the 'modern' timeline. There were chores and visitors in the 'old' timeline. But there's no action, no suspense, and there's barely any interaction at all between the narrators and their romantic interests until the very end of the book. And then the book ends. The biggest travesty of this book for me was (view spoiler)[ we don't even get to read Lydia's entire letter! (hide spoiler)] . But despite all that, I didn't notice any of these downsides until I was finished with the book. While I was reading it, I was enjoying getting to know these characters and more about their lives and the lives of the people around them.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I enjoyed this so, so much. So many endearing characters but Zeb, Lydia and Jean-Philippe were favorites. I appreciate that Kearsley added an authors note explaining her motivations for writing about this time period; “I find people I just feel are reaching out to me. They take hold of my heart, somehow, and I just can’t forget them.” Her writing conveys her passion so authentically that I carry it with me long after I’ve turned the last page. If you have not had the pleasure of reading a Kearsl I enjoyed this so, so much. So many endearing characters but Zeb, Lydia and Jean-Philippe were favorites. I appreciate that Kearsley added an authors note explaining her motivations for writing about this time period; “I find people I just feel are reaching out to me. They take hold of my heart, somehow, and I just can’t forget them.” Her writing conveys her passion so authentically that I carry it with me long after I’ve turned the last page. If you have not had the pleasure of reading a Kearsley novel I would highly recommend adding them to your list. 5 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve Graham

    As she has with every one of her exquisite time slip novels, Susanna Kearsley left me breathless with "Bellewether". Historical fiction is all about bringing history to life, and Ms Kearsley always gives us so much more than a mere heartbeat. With a curator's expertise, a historian's passion, and an artist's finesse, she brings meticulous attention to 18th century historical detail (including the Acadians - a particular favourite of mine), and every detail has a purpose, meaning her beautiful pr As she has with every one of her exquisite time slip novels, Susanna Kearsley left me breathless with "Bellewether". Historical fiction is all about bringing history to life, and Ms Kearsley always gives us so much more than a mere heartbeat. With a curator's expertise, a historian's passion, and an artist's finesse, she brings meticulous attention to 18th century historical detail (including the Acadians - a particular favourite of mine), and every detail has a purpose, meaning her beautiful prose is never overdone. I'm always so impressed by how she is able to create separate/connected characters and make them all equally compelling - it's like she writes two separate books in one. And somehow I always end up with such a crush on her men (both 21st and 18th century). Charley and Lydia were strong, intelligent, and beautiful women, but Sam and Jean-Philippe? Well, despite the perfect endings to both stories, I ended up wishing there was more about them!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brittain *The Baddest Female*

    Ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease Edit: Another pretty cover but I kind of wish it was different from all of the others. They are starting to look the same.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    Want some atmosphere and a story focused on an old Colonial Era house out on Long Island that is on the cusp of revealing it's secrets? Susanna Kearsley does what she does best and offers a story within a story, a twisting tale full of secrets and love in the past? And that little bit where the reader catches something in their peripheral view and, for just an instant, believes in ghosts and superstition as reality. The story opens with history buff, Charley, moving to Long Island and taking a jo Want some atmosphere and a story focused on an old Colonial Era house out on Long Island that is on the cusp of revealing it's secrets? Susanna Kearsley does what she does best and offers a story within a story, a twisting tale full of secrets and love in the past? And that little bit where the reader catches something in their peripheral view and, for just an instant, believes in ghosts and superstition as reality. The story opens with history buff, Charley, moving to Long Island and taking a job as curator for the Wilde House Museum that is set to open after restorations are complete. Charley is burdened by grief because she took this job because of her brother's death and a need to be there for his nineteen year old daughter and its a chance to sort out her own life. She is content to have a connection with Niels friend, Malaika and to enjoy Sam the contractor for work on the Wilde house. But, Charley stumbles on a ghost story and a tragic tale of lovers in the past surrounding the old Wilde House. Is it the Frenchman's ghost carrying the lantern in the woods at night looking for his lost love or is there more to it? The past storyline in the late 1650's is told from dual points of view of both Lydia Wilde and Jean-Philippe de Sabran. Lydia just lost her fiance' to the French in one of the battles during the Seven Years' War and her brother didn't come back from that battle normal. Her hatred is palpable, but her family has two French officer parolees foist upon them even while she is trying to hold her family together after her mother's death. Jean-Philippe is captivated by the English beauty, but has a hard path to winning her. Ominous clouds form around the pair and the reader has the knowledge of the present day story that keeps the advancing tragedy always on the mind. As usual with her books, I do prefer the past storyline especially since their differing perspectives were so wide of each other at first with the whole enemy nationalities and ideologies thing, but I still loved the present plot as well. Charley's story had me not all that disappointed when the focus would shift to the present. The author has a way of stringing a strong connection through so that past and present rub along nearly seamlessly. I think the reader is meant to connect with the past story moreso because there are two narrators for that bit as opposed to just the one in the present day. Neither story felt underdeveloped, but, I'm a history buff like Charley, so that will pull me in every time. The author's research is meticulous. I always learn a little more and see the past well through her eyes when I'm getting the descriptions. It's not dry and she paints her settings in a colorful palette. She makes some pointed historical and present day social commentary that all weaves into the story well. I love the Colonial Era and don't pick up enough stories set in that time. Combine it with the atmospheric suspense and romance of the fictional characters the author wrote and I was sublimely happy. I've purposefully kept things vague, but there is a sense of discovery that is the best feeling when reading this one that I don't want to destroy for future readers. I will warn that the pacing is gentle and the suspense is far from thriller intense. The author relies on emotion and character development rather than intense action. Those who love romantic suspense with a strong history element should definitely give this book and the author a go. My thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    Susanna Kearsley’s latest book focuses on a house on the eastern shores of Long Island. In this dual timeline tale, the story alternates between three characters, Lydia, Jean-Phillippe, and Charley. Lydia and Jean-Phillippe live in the 1750’s; Lydia inhabits the house in question, and Jean-Phillippe is a French Canadian lieutenant held there as a captive during the Seven Years’ War. Charley lives in the present day and endeavors to uncover the secrets of Wilde House, itself a character in the st Susanna Kearsley’s latest book focuses on a house on the eastern shores of Long Island. In this dual timeline tale, the story alternates between three characters, Lydia, Jean-Phillippe, and Charley. Lydia and Jean-Phillippe live in the 1750’s; Lydia inhabits the house in question, and Jean-Phillippe is a French Canadian lieutenant held there as a captive during the Seven Years’ War. Charley lives in the present day and endeavors to uncover the secrets of Wilde House, itself a character in the story. Full of magic, historical detail, and with several love stories thrown in, Kearsley creates an entertaining tale.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I love historical fiction. Even more when there’s a connection to the present, like with this book. And even even more when there’s romance. And it did help that it involved a French Canadian soldier, since I live in Quebec... I love to know more about history. I really loved that book. It’s beautifully written, and the change of perspective between Lydia, Jean-Philippe and Charley is captivating. Thanks to the publisher for the advanced ebook through NetGalley.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    3.5 * Susanna Kearsley is an excellent story teller. I like how she blends the past and present together. This was a fascinating story. The present day story involves Charley (Charlotte) who comes back to her father's birthplace (on Long Island) to be a curator of an old historic museum home. The past story involves the historical home and its family. It mainly focuses on Lydia who lives in the home with her father and brothers. It is the time of the French War and a French-Canadian Lieutenant (J 3.5 * Susanna Kearsley is an excellent story teller. I like how she blends the past and present together. This was a fascinating story. The present day story involves Charley (Charlotte) who comes back to her father's birthplace (on Long Island) to be a curator of an old historic museum home. The past story involves the historical home and its family. It mainly focuses on Lydia who lives in the home with her father and brothers. It is the time of the French War and a French-Canadian Lieutenant (Jean-Philippe) is captured and brought to live in Lydia's home. They subsequently fall in love. The story is told in three view points; Charley's, Lydia's and Jean-Philippe's. The time period is engaging and I enjoyed reading about the American and Canadian connections. However the story is slow paced especially the romance in both time periods. Nevertheless beautifully written. I'd like to thank NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for granting me the opportunity to read this Advanced Reader Edition.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hollis

    If you're looking for a detailed historical read set in the late 1700s surrounding the war between the British and the French on American, and Canadian soil, you'll love this. I have never read anything from this particular conflict, though I think maybe I've read something after the fact?, and I particularly wasn't familiar with this idea of billeted war prisoners staying in peoples' homes, as a mark of their honour and rank, instead of jails but I found the concept totally fascinating. Kearsley If you're looking for a detailed historical read set in the late 1700s surrounding the war between the British and the French on American, and Canadian soil, you'll love this. I have never read anything from this particular conflict, though I think maybe I've read something after the fact?, and I particularly wasn't familiar with this idea of billeted war prisoners staying in peoples' homes, as a mark of their honour and rank, instead of jails but I found the concept totally fascinating. Kearsley weaves a family-driven story surrounding this very situation and the conflict the Wilde's face when they themselves have had very personal losses in the war and are forced to play host to two very different but very French soldiers. At the same time we're in present day Long Island and the Wilde house is being renovated and curated as a museum. Charley is recent to the area and in piecing together the story surrounding the more famous brother, Captain Wilde who commanded the Bellewether, and who is to be the focus of the project, she is told of a legend surrounding the love affair between the youngest Wilde child, a daughter, and a French officer. But it seems to be just a story, not based in fact, until Charley starts finding pieces of the puzzle to prove it to be true, all the while helped along by a very unlikely ally. The story set in the past had two POVs and I liked them the most, I think, because it was a slowburn build of trust and understanding and, eventually, love. Whereas the present day events were filled with not so nice people and an even slower damn burn romance.. if you can believe it. Both timelines were enjoyable, though at times it was slow going or didn't always keep my interest, and yet there was something about this story. Not just the unexpected bits, or the emotional resonance, the emphasis on family, but the idea that so much of legend can become history and in some cases we might never know the truth of it. So much of this story was like that, and in more ways than one. Part of me hesitates to round this one up because, yes, there were those not so engaging bits, the romance is really mild, and hey did I mention the slowness, and yet I feel like I can't do anything less. BELLEWETHER might not have been particular original in the sense of how the story, especially the present day one, unfolded but there is a remarkable bit of magic to the telling of it nonetheless. I don't know. It's hard to describe why this captivated me and all I can say is.. it did. ** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christie«SHBBblogger»

    Title: Bellewether Author: Susanna Kearsley Release date: August 6, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)] The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew within its walls as long as it stayed standing; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren’t such easy things to keep. Charlotte "Charlie" Van Hoek is the new curator at the Wilde family museum at Snug Cove, and stumbles upon a love story in the Wilde family that ends abruptly in tragedy. She' Title: Bellewether Author: Susanna Kearsley Release date: August 6, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)] The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew within its walls as long as it stayed standing; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren’t such easy things to keep. Charlotte "Charlie" Van Hoek is the new curator at the Wilde family museum at Snug Cove, and stumbles upon a love story in the Wilde family that ends abruptly in tragedy. She's never been one to believe in ghosts, but rumor has it that one has been spotted wandering the property in despair. Gossip, or a heartbroken soul unable to be at peace after a tragic end? Whatever the case may be, she thinks it could be a great story to research while she organizes the restoration of the Wildes' home. Along the way, she meets Sam, the contractor in charge with a soft heart and a sensitive soul. He's a quiet man, but strong and dependable. The kind of man that cares and looks out for you if you're in his small inner circle. Their friendship flourished gradually, and eventually bloomed into love. It was most definitely a slow burn, and very much in the background of the overall plot. The main focus was Charlie's investigation of the Wilde family, and her challenges with her own family. Coming back to the town where her family originated from is painful for more reasons than one. The loss of her father and brother back to back, followed by assuming responsibility for her brother's daughter Rachel completely shook up her world. She's still trying to settle all the pieces back into some sort of order. Then there's the fact that the grandmother that she's never met lives in town. The grandmother who disowned her father after he became a Vietnam war draft dodger and split town. There's a lot of buried bitterness and hurt, compounded by pieces of history that were hidden from her most of her life. Even if her grandmother were to reach out to her, would she even deserve her time after she turned her back on them and refused contact? Charlie deals with a lot of inner turmoil as she tries to be there for Rachel, prove herself at work, and make sense of her feelings for the man who is her rock through it all. Bellewether is a ghost story at heart, but not quite in the way you anticipate when you pick it up. Throughout the entire book you're wondering if the ending you think you know will come to light, and hoping it isn't the more time you spend with Lydia and the rest of the Wildes. I loved that about it. The plot is chock full of pre-revolution history in finely researched detail, and wonderfully character driven. Admittedly, it took me a big chunk of the book until I was firmly sucked in and reading at a fast pace. Because of the depth of the family history that's being introduced, it takes a while to fully entrench yourself. But it's so worth it when you do, and I'm so happy that I pushed through the first half. There are actually three alternating first person POVs, Jean-Phillipe and Lydia in the past, in addition to Charlie's in the present. One thing I really loved was the chapter transitions. As we moved from the past to the present, or vise versa, the two characters on different timelines would be experiencing or feeling similar things. Charlie would be at the cove enjoying the sun on her face and the breeze blowing through her hair. Contemplating a sailboat as it glided past her. Then we'd flip to Lydia who'd be watching the boats go by at sunrise worrying over her family. It kind of brought home the fact that even though we feel so separated from those who lived in other eras, we all share the same threads of humanity. Clothing, culture, and technology may change, but our internal struggle and basic human experiences are the common thread that continue to tie us together. One really unique thing about the past storyline was the fact that Lydia and Jean-Pierre didn't speak the same language. At first it confused me because I wondered how in the world these two people who were on opposite sides of the war, with a language barrier between them on top of it would grow to care about each other. I admit, I was doubtful. But I ended up really loving that about these two, and I felt like it ended up being one of the most romantic and unique things about them. Their feelings didn't grow purely out of each other's physical appearance. In fact, it took quite some time before Lydia could even see anything other than an Acadian French soldier who fought against her brother with their enemy. Getting inside both of their heads from the first person POV really helped us understand how they studied one another. How they discovered each other's quirks, strengths, weaknesses, and hearts through the long months of transition while he stayed in her home. Words aren't needed when actions can be quietly observed to reveal the true character of a person. Wars lay easier upon the conscience, Lydia decided, when you could not see the faces of the people you were fighting. And it was vastly easier to hate a man when you’d not learned his Christian name, or pried into his private thoughts and learned that he was human. I personally was more drawn to the historical set of characters. Lydia's struggle to keep the peace between her brothers, and fill the space that her mother left when she passed away made me sympathize. There's a feeling that the entire family is on the cusp of some very drastic changes. That the peace they share in those moments is ephemeral, as if it's about to slip through their fingers never to return again. Of course there is some tension over Lydia's budding romance because we don't know how or if tragedy will strike. The Wilde family was extremely well developed with a broad family tree that I would love to continue learning about. Lydia's brother Benjamin was a privateer and hero of the revolution, and we learned just enough of his life to leave me very curious and intrigued. I really hope there will be a full length story there for us in the future! The author's skill in drawing me into that time period with her vivid and lush writing compensated for the reading pace that lagged at times. And she more than made up for it in the chapters leading up to the resolution. I couldn't speed through them fast enough, as I was desperate to discover if there would be a HEA. I did feel as if the romance between Sam and Charley could have given me a little more to savor between them, but overall the originality and mystery of Bellewether won me over. This is only my second read by Susanna Kearsley, but it certainly won't be my last. FOLLOW SMOKIN HOT BOOK BLOG ON:

  16. 4 out of 5

    Misfit

    I yield at 27%. I love Kearsley's books, I really do, but this is boring and nothing happens and I don't care about anyone. The only interesting part was the first paragraph and it went downhill from there. I couldn't even get interesting in the story line set in the past.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    It takes a particular skill to write a dual time period novel and make it work seamlessly. It is something Susanna Kearsley does very well. Too often in such novels the switches between times seem jarring to me, but with Kearsley this is seldom the case. I suppose you could say her books are somewhat formulaic, but she researches her historical era well and includes some actual figures from the time, which adds authenticity. In Bellewether, the setting is the Wilde House, a New York colonial home It takes a particular skill to write a dual time period novel and make it work seamlessly. It is something Susanna Kearsley does very well. Too often in such novels the switches between times seem jarring to me, but with Kearsley this is seldom the case. I suppose you could say her books are somewhat formulaic, but she researches her historical era well and includes some actual figures from the time, which adds authenticity. In Bellewether, the setting is the Wilde House, a New York colonial home that is being turned into a museum because it was once the home of a famous Revolutionary War pirate, Benjamin Wilde. Charlotte (Charley) Van Hoek has been hired to curate the museum, and she becomes interested in a local tale about Benjamin’s sister, Lydia, and a love affair she had with a French prisoner of war who was housed in her home and murdered during the French and Indian Wars. I enjoyed that the time she selected is not one that is often covered and that her characters behaved in ways that would have been appropriate to the time. When I read this kind of novel, I generally enjoy the historical elements more than the present-time ones. It is evident that this is a well-researched history, with every element ringing true, but I found the modern-day story held my interest as well. Of course, if you are expecting to close the book and come away with something profound or life-changing, this isn’t the book to read, but if you are just looking for a book that is fun, holds your interest and takes you out of the everyday world for a while, this would be just the right choice.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Scarlett

    You know that feeling when you get a great first impression of someone, but you become disappointed after spending some substantial time with them? That is how I felt about this book, I lost interest very quickly. The topic seemed interesting, but it was nothing new. The typical past and present story, told from several perspectives, did nothing to impress me. None of the characters had something to captivate me or to make me care. Still, Susanna Kearsley is a good writer, her writing has a nice You know that feeling when you get a great first impression of someone, but you become disappointed after spending some substantial time with them? That is how I felt about this book, I lost interest very quickly. The topic seemed interesting, but it was nothing new. The typical past and present story, told from several perspectives, did nothing to impress me. None of the characters had something to captivate me or to make me care. Still, Susanna Kearsley is a good writer, her writing has a nice flow and I liked how she implemented some nice, almost philosophical thoughts without trying to sound profound. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to make this read enjoyable, it was boring and predictable. Once again, the attractive blurb was better than the story itself. Young French Canadian lieutenant enters the story as a war captive, made to stay with the Wilde family until the end of war. There, he falls in love with Lydia, the only daughter in the house. Love story between enemies is told many, many times, so it is hard to find something exciting here. Both characters are two dimensional and for all the money in the world, I couldn’t see the attraction between them. Their problems are not really problems, but they are made to look dramatic. Their ending is also just too much, I really, really did not care about it. In the present, we follow Charley, a museum curator who is trying to pick up the pieces of this love story, while also trying to maintain some personal life of her own. Charley, of course, has unsustainable relationship with some random guy until she discovers her true feeling about Sam, a contractor who is all the best things that little town has to offer. This is not a spoiler, you can figure this out in the first chapter, considering how Sam swoops in the story like an unsung hero every woman needs. The author herself is "a former museum curator who loves restoring the lost voices of real people to the page", according to her author’s page. This is probably the reason why there is a big, and I really mean huge amount of unwanted description how an expert goes through documents and decides if they are valid and worth displaying in the museum. It is informative, but definitely not worth putting in a historical fiction novel. Finding buttons and going through dirt to see if there are any more buttons there… not really exciting. I also wonder, why is this book titled "Bellewether"? If you must know, that is the name of the ship, but kill me if I see the story revolving around it. It is just a convenient transportation in one point of the story and it introduces us to one minor character. I am not criticizing, I may have lost the meaning somewhere, but if someone catches the importance of Bellewether, please inform me. That being said, I can’t shake off the impression that Susanna is a good writer! This may be a boring book, but I can see myself getting one of her other books one day, who knows. I got this ebook from Sourcebooks Landmark through NetGalley and I am very grateful for this reading opportunity!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    4-4.5 stars This was my first book by Kearsley and I loved it. I can’t believe I haven’t read anything by her before. But now she is on my radar and I will be on the lookout for anything by this author. Bellewether has everything that I love in a book- dual timeline (past / present), multiple POV narration, a little bit of historical fiction, a little bit of mystery and a little bit of a paranormal element all rolled into one heck of a great tale. I thought that the characters were extremely well 4-4.5 stars This was my first book by Kearsley and I loved it. I can’t believe I haven’t read anything by her before. But now she is on my radar and I will be on the lookout for anything by this author. Bellewether has everything that I love in a book- dual timeline (past / present), multiple POV narration, a little bit of historical fiction, a little bit of mystery and a little bit of a paranormal element all rolled into one heck of a great tale. I thought that the characters were extremely well developed, even the secondary ones and the way that Kearsley tells the story, you just get so absorbed into this world and you don’t want to put the book down. I found myself many times saying “one more chapter” when it was well past the time I should have been reading. What I also liked is that even though we have the past and present timelines, both were equally interesting and I found that one did not outweigh the other. Kearsley did a great job with the transitions from Charley, Lydia and Jean-Phillipe. Each has their own distinct voice and I found myself liking all 3. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Also, if you are a fan of Kate Morton, I would highly recommend this book! They have a similar style and I often found myself comparing the two; which by the way, is a total compliment. I haven’t read anything by Morton that I didn’t like and now I have Kearsley to add to my list. Thank you to Sourcebooks for my copy of this book via Edelweiss

  20. 5 out of 5

    ✶Rachelle✶

    4 stars I very much enjoyed this! It has everything I love about Ms. Kearsley’s books, and I can’t wait to add a copy to my bookshelf. Full review to follow closer to publication ————- I was beyond thrilled to see this ARC waiting in my inbox! Susanna Kearsley is one of my favorite authors and I can't wait to get started with this one =D

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Kearsley manages to weave dry historical detail, blossoming lukewarm love affairs, and the banal intricacies of working for non-profit institutions into a tale I will soon forget. Thank you to Netgalley for providing free digital access to this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amy Bruno

    3.5 stars. Great writing as always, I just wish there had been a little more drama and action.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    "I'm a soldier. I don't get to choose my path." "You're a soldier, so you follow, yes? Then follow this." Pierre's hard finger jabbed him in the chest, above his heart. "God gave you this. He set it like a light within you, so that you could see it well and know the way to go. You follow THIS, Marine. Don't look behind." I really enjoyed this. It was a little slow going at first, but so well done that I easily got into a groove. I was equally drawn to both stories, the modern and the historic. "I'm a soldier. I don't get to choose my path." "You're a soldier, so you follow, yes? Then follow this." Pierre's hard finger jabbed him in the chest, above his heart. "God gave you this. He set it like a light within you, so that you could see it well and know the way to go. You follow THIS, Marine. Don't look behind." I really enjoyed this. It was a little slow going at first, but so well done that I easily got into a groove. I was equally drawn to both stories, the modern and the historic. And while both romances were slow in developing, they were both completely worth the wait. This was not my favorite of Susanna Kearsley's works, but it was definitely a great read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    TL

    (my copy is is 434 pages) Writing: 4 stars Plot: 3.5 stars Characters: 4 stars 3.75 stars overall perhaps ---- Miss Kearsley's wonderful writing transports me yet again to a long ago time and place. I fell in love with atmosphere and the people in it... wanting not to leave and at the same time wanting to know how it all turned out. And yet, I didn't love this as much as her others (but I have a feeling this one will be more appreciated with further reads perhaps). Why? The "spark" was there but it was (my copy is is 434 pages) Writing: 4 stars Plot: 3.5 stars Characters: 4 stars 3.75 stars overall perhaps ---- Miss Kearsley's wonderful writing transports me yet again to a long ago time and place. I fell in love with atmosphere and the people in it... wanting not to leave and at the same time wanting to know how it all turned out. And yet, I didn't love this as much as her others (but I have a feeling this one will be more appreciated with further reads perhaps). Why? The "spark" was there but it wasn't the same as her other works. There were times when this was hard to put down, but it was also easy to put it aside as well. The historical parts drew me in right away... Miss Kearsley has a gift for bringing you into the past and bringing everything to life. While I wouldn't want to live there (indoor plumbing being one reason haha), I wouldn't mind visiting to see what life was like back then. The present storyline was harder for me to connect to. There were aspects I enjoyed (hearing about the Wilde House restoration, the 'ghost' aspects) but overall I was indifferent to the majority of it till later on in the book when certain things happened. A part at the end made me smile as well, though it didn't make up for my previous feelings completely (only helped some). Learning who one of Charley's ancestors was and making the connection to the people in the past was fun to think about. It also had me wondering who else my ancestors knew and how they got along with these people... if they knew them long, etc. The history she included as well... makes you wish this stuff was taught in school as well. I certainly would have paid more attention in class. As I told my mom once, "You find out all the good stuff after high-school is over." All in all, would recommend. A beautiful novel still even with my quibbles, and I would love to to see her write more in this time period as well. Side note: Major Cover Love <3 Kudos to the designer!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    “It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Je “It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story.” Let me preface my review with, I absolutely love Susanna Kearsley! This author tops my automatic buy list for Historical fiction. She is also the only author that I buy the Kindle, audible and the actual book; so, yes, I have three versions of all her books. I can honestly say I have never been so over joyed to receive an ARC, like literally full on happy dancing around my bedroom. Huge thanks to NetGalley, Sourcebooks and Susanna Kearsley for a free advanced copy for an honest review. Mrs. Kearsley is an excellent story teller. She has a brilliant way of blending the past and the present together. “The Bellwether” is told through a wonderful dual timelines, present day and during the Seven Year War. I have to admit, I haven’t read much if anything on this particular time period, so I was a little intrigued. The story begins with Charley (Charlotte), our modern day heroine who has recently moved to the Long Island area to be the curator of the Wilde House during its historical renovation. Through this, she is trying to piece together historical facts regarding the Wilde family, more precisely Captain Wilde, who was captain of the “Bellewether”. During this, she is told the legend regarding the only Wilde sister, Lydia and her French soldier, Jean-Philippe de Sabran. While on her fact finding mission regarding Lydia, she stumbles across an unwelcome paranormal ally (if paranormal is not your thing, don’t worry this is a very minor piece to the story, but a fun one). She also stumbles across her sexy Native American contractor, Sam. Though both love stories were slow paced, they were none the less immensely beautiful! The story is told between three viewpoints, Lydia, Jean-Philippe and Charley. As always with her books, I loved every minute I spent with these characters, and ended up with huge crushes on our heroes. Our heroines, Lydia and Charley were resilient, intelligent, and beautiful women. The stories were both perfect and had beautiful endings.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bree Hill

    Susanna Kearsley has been my FAVORITE author for the past couple of years and it’s hard for me to go into her books unbiased and not automatically assuming I’m going to LOVE them just because it’s her. I found myself doing that with this book when really, about halfway through I was like OMG..SK is known for slow moving books but she’s also written books like Mariana and The Shadowy Horses where I felt from the beginning she had me sucked in..Bellewether was just a little too slow moving for me. Susanna Kearsley has been my FAVORITE author for the past couple of years and it’s hard for me to go into her books unbiased and not automatically assuming I’m going to LOVE them just because it’s her. I found myself doing that with this book when really, about halfway through I was like OMG..SK is known for slow moving books but she’s also written books like Mariana and The Shadowy Horses where I felt from the beginning she had me sucked in..Bellewether was just a little too slow moving for me. In true SK fashion there are two women main characters separated by time, both have their own love interest and are tied together in some way. Charley is our modern day lady who is a newly hired museum curator in Lydia Wilde (our historic main character’s) old house. Lydia is a young woman during the Seven Years War and her family is housing two French officers. One of the POV’s we get is from Jean Philippe, one of the officers who you figure out shortly will be the love interest of Lydia but it moves SO. SLOW. I mean at 55% I remember feeling like THEY BARELY even speak nor even acknowledge each other up to this point. What I liked about this book is the family aspect. The Wilde’s are really close. The Mother, Patience has passed away and the Father does his best to hold things together. Lydia really steps it up as a sister and daughter to take care of her father and brothers with the help of Violet..the slave owned by her uncle who her family is pretty much rescuing since her Mother showed up on their doorstep years ago. I like how SK handled slavery in this book. This is her first book solely in America so I wondered how it would be dealt with and I feel she did a good job. It was also nice to see Lydia grow in certain ways when it came to race. She loves Violet like a sister but is so prejudice against the French Officers. It’s understandable given the time period and what is going on around her but you see her eventually lighten up and become accepting. Great historical fiction as expected from SK, just a little too slow for me at the moment. I think I should’ve waited for the fall to read this. Maybe a different time this would’ve been perfect.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    I'm going to be very honest in this review. I have read every book Susanna Kearsley has written. There is only one book that I didn't like. That was Named of the Dragon. I gave up on that one. Everything else I either loved immensely or liked a lot. I have been impatiently waiting for the release of Bellewether for years. When it came out I saw several people mention that it was slow. Uh-oh I thought.... I started it and at first it was fine. I was interested in it for sure. Then, it got slow! I I'm going to be very honest in this review. I have read every book Susanna Kearsley has written. There is only one book that I didn't like. That was Named of the Dragon. I gave up on that one. Everything else I either loved immensely or liked a lot. I have been impatiently waiting for the release of Bellewether for years. When it came out I saw several people mention that it was slow. Uh-oh I thought.... I started it and at first it was fine. I was interested in it for sure. Then, it got slow! I was so upset. After all this waiting how could Susanna Kearsley give me a slow book!?! But I just couldn't give up that easily and I kept going. It got good again. Then it got a little slow again. Then it got good again. There were a couple slow areas, but way less and then it stayed good in my opinion! Towards the end it was amazing and I couldn't put it down! There is a twist at the end that I was happy about and I really was so enthralled during the last 30% of the book. I was glued to my Kindle! So, I'm happy and the book lived up to my expectations! I have to also say the subject written about, the historical aspect of the French Indian war is something I'd never read about, so I enjoyed this dip into history! I guess now I wait again for her next book.... 😀

  28. 4 out of 5

    Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance

    This book follows the two timeline historical fiction style that we know of previous Susanna Kearsley writings. The main characters are in the present and intermingle with those in the past. Usually it is a setting or a relative that connects the two. In this novel however, it is only the presence of a ghost that shows itself like a house ghost or a legend told. “The story of the ghost has been around for generations, and every generation ads their bit to it, but I’ll tell it the way I first hear This book follows the two timeline historical fiction style that we know of previous Susanna Kearsley writings. The main characters are in the present and intermingle with those in the past. Usually it is a setting or a relative that connects the two. In this novel however, it is only the presence of a ghost that shows itself like a house ghost or a legend told. “The story of the ghost has been around for generations, and every generation ads their bit to it, but I’ll tell it the way I first heard it from my uncle Walt-the way he heard it at his great-grandfather’s knee, so he said.” -Susanna Kearsley Charley (Charlotte) is a museum curator that just recently moved to Long Island and oversees the historical renovation of the ‘Wilde House’. As she spends more time at this house and the surrounding area, she develops a keen interest in this legend she keeps hearing about that involves Captain Wilde’s sister Lydia and a French soldier, Jean-Philippe. Piecing together the past and giving justice to historical events and people, she keeps working on unraveling the past through photographs and written documents, until she finds out her life is unraveling at the same time. Could the super handsome contractor that works at the renovation project be part of the reason or did he just happen to be there when she was in need? “The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew within its walls as long as it stayed standing; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren’t such easy things to keep” -Susanna Kearsley 1759, the ‘Bellewether’ was attacked by enemy pirates in the West Indies and brought home barely afloat for repairs. Jean-Philippe de Sabran, a captured French Canadian lieutenant gets billeted into the ‘Wilde’ house, where he isn’t welcome, but he is needed as a worker around the house and farm. As he earns his keep and helps repair the Bellewether, he starts to fall for Lydia. Both of them know, their relationship would never be allowed as tensions during the Seven Year War are heating up and trading agreements are broken across all waters. Loyalties will be challenged and desperation leads to dangerous illegal trading around Hispaniola. As Lydia and Jean-Philippe are faced to overcome insurmountable obstacles, their legend begins to form as tragedy hits….or so it seems. Charley stumbles upon an important artifact that help her solve the mystery of the two lovers, as well as an important issue: Slaves. “The ghost had been trying to tell me this, when he’d kept turning my painting around.” -Susanna Kearsley *** Susanna Kearsley does her research! Combining historical events with characters she learns of during her research, while adding a dash of fiction, create her mysterious novels. The setting by the beach in ‘Bellewether’ was especially alluring with its foggy tantalizing legend that pulls you in to read more. If you enjoy these kind of books, I recommend ‘Marianna’. One of my favorites of hers. Happy reading! I received a digital copy of 'Bellewether' from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you. For more reviews: https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

  29. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Susanna can do no wrong. Every book of hers is magical.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Really wanted to love this offering by Kearsley, but my gosh it was so SLOOOW. Took me nearly 3 weeks to finish. Haven't given up on her writing, but will say her last 3 books don't hold a candle to Mariana or Every Secret Thing.

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