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An interesting, expressive, and bittersweet dual time frame novel. Marine archaeologist Rachel investigates a shipwreck with links to the slave trade, while in 1763 Abigail falls in love with a tobacco trader in Whitehaven. This is the fourth in the Tales from Goswell series. These books feature the village of Goswell in Cumbria and a new main lead (or two) is introduced each time. A slice of history creates a dual timeline, with the present linking to the past and the focus equally on both. Characters from previous books are mentioned which adds continuity, it almost feels like a much loved holiday cottage, returning to a place that feels comfortable and homely. The slave trade from Whitehaven spears this storyline, with Katharine Swartz balancing the thoughts of the time with love and as usual with her books, hope. What it is to be family sits centre stage in The Widow’s Secret, and while a tale full of warmth, there is also an undeniably flinty and thought-provoking edge.
A bittersweet, compassionate family drama set in Cumbria. Ellen is under pressure after her step-daughter comes to live with her family. Emotionally bombarded, Ellen attempts to solve the mystery of a death certificate from 1872, that was found under their floorboards. This is the third in the ‘Tales from Goswell’ series with its trademark dual time frames, yet a sharper, biting edge hovers over the stories. 1872 is brought to intense life, yet past and present almost become one, as feelings breach the time divide. Both tales reveal heartbreak and family angst, Katharine Swartz handles the pain and emotion with great sensitivity and tenderness. Goswell centres the tales, with the warmth of village life sitting in the background, along with Jane Hatton from ‘The Vicar’s Wife’. An emotional read awaits in ‘The Second Bride’, yet one that is ultimately full of love and hope. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to see The Lost Garden by the same author.
A charming, warm and evocative tale, told in two time frames, this is the second in the Tales from Goswell’ series set in Cumbria. Eleanor’s story starts in 1918, while Marin’s although not dated, feels as though it is set in the present. The two tales are connected, by more than the walled garden that remains a constant from one time to the next; both Marin and Eleanor are experiencing loss and attempting to make sense of the world around them. The focus on the time immediately after the First World War gives a fascinating insight into some of the difficulties faced by men and women trying to find a sense of normality. The Hatton’s from ‘The Vicar’s Wife’, the first in the series, also appear in Marin’s story. This sweet, engaging tale, has a darker edge, however the focus on forgiveness and hope that weaves through both time frames, creates a moving and enjoyable read. ~ Liz Robinson
Jane Hatton and her British husband Andrew relocate from New York City to a small village on the Cumbrian coast. Jane has been city-based and career-driven but when her fourteen year old daughter Natalie falls in with the wrong crowd at school in Manhattan, she and Andrew decide to try country living. However Jane has trouble getting used to the silence and solitude of a remote village. Natalie hates her new school, and eleven-year-old Ben struggles academically. Only seven-year-old Merrie enjoys country life. Has Jane made a horrible mistake? The Hattons have bought the old vicarage in the village. When Jane finds a scrap of shopping list, she grows curious about Alice, the vicar's wife who lived there years before. As we follow the twin narratives of Jane, in the present, and Alice in the 1930s we discover that both are on a journey to discover their true selves, and to address their deepest fears.