Today I’m handing over to Mandie who has a review of Kate Riordan’s The Stranger as part of the blog tour. Thanks to Jenny Platt at publisher Penguin Michael Joseph for inviting us to join the tour and for providing an advance copy for review. Let’s take a look at what the book is all about.
About the Book
In the hushed hours of the night a woman is taken by the sea.
Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in?
In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall.
Each is looking to escape her past.
But one of them is not there by choice.
As the threat of invasion mounts and the nightly blackouts feel longer and longer, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface.
And no one can predict what their neighbour is capable of . . .
In a house full of strangers, who do you trust?
In The Stranger you are transported to a small Cornish town in 1940 and the lives of 3 Land Girls stationed Penhallow Hall.
The majority of the story is told through the eyes of Diana Devlin a slightly wilful and troubled Land Girl who was sent to Cornwall in the hope that she would be kept busy and stay out of trouble. She is constantly looking for ways to relieve what she considers the tedious and boring life she is now being faced with. She resents the War and the blackouts and will do anything to remain the centre of attention even if it means being spiteful to the others that are at the Hall. For me Diana was not always a very likeable character but I think that was the point. You do get the sense that she has not had a very good childhood and that her mother was more than happy to get rid of her. Some of her actions are born out of a desire to be accepted and at times she will show a caring side but then she will go and do something that will just put people against her again. It is out of boredom that she starts to dig into the lives and history of the family that own Penhallow Hall and a sense of mischief that drives some of her actions including getting involved with the local bad boy that enables her to keep stocked up with black-market cigarettes, nylons and alcohol.
Rose one of the other Land Girls chose to come to Cornwall as it would mean she could once again visit the village that she stayed at as a child. This is a place where she was once happy, when her mother was alive and she met Sam. They had promised to keep in touch, but like so many never actually did. Now she is in a marriage that she is not happy in, with a husband who is fighting in the war in the Navy she has used the chance of becoming a Land Girl as a way to escape even if only for a while. Although she fully expects Sam to be off fighting in the war, she still wonders if he remembers her and secretly hopes that she will see him.
The third Land Girl is Jane who has a connection to the Hall and its family that is discovered by Diana and used to her advantage when she wants something. The family themselves are trying to hide events from the past but as with all secrets you just know that they won’t stay buried and at some point they will be revealed with someone getting hurt in the process. Although as the book progresses you can guess what the family secret is, there is still a little surprise involved when it is finally revealed.
Opening with the discovery of a woman’s body in the cove, I will admit based on the things I read at the beginning I thought I knew who it was and why they were dead. The book is set out almost as diary entries in the run up to the discovery of the body so that you get a true sense of the timelines involved.
What I loved was that the more I read, the more I got dragged into the lives of all the characters, learning a bit about life for the people at home and what they had to cope with during the war. Despite on the surface they all seemed to be randomly thrown together, they soon got dragged into each other’s lives and you wanted to find out how they would deal with everything the war was currently throwing at them. For anyone who loves history with a little bit of mystery then this is a book you should definitely read.
Thanks Mandie. The Stranger is available now from the following retailers:
About the Author
Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist who was born in London and grew up in Warwickshire. She spent her first years in journalism as a staffer, first at The Guardian as an editorial assistant and later at Time Out London, where she went on to become deputy editor for the lifestyle section, covering everything from travel to property to beauty. After seven fantastic years of weird and wonderful assignments, she decided to go freelance in order to concentrate on writing fiction, which had for a long time been an ambition (not least when she was interviewing authors for Time Out).
After moving to Cheltenham in the Cotswolds, she wrote Birdcage Walk, which was published by Diversion as an ebook in 2012. Her second novel sold to Penguin in the UK and HarperCollins in the US and Canada, and was published in early 2015 – as The Girl in the Photograph and Fiercombe Manor respectively. A German edition will follow in the autumn of 2015. She is now hard at work on her next novel, a dual narrative story full of secrets and intrigue and moving between the years 1877, 1910 and 1922.
Kate lives in the Gloucestershire countryside with her husband and their dog Morris, a Staffordshire bull terrier they adopted from a shelter in 2013.
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