Arethusa Clayton has always been formidable, used to getting her own way. On her death, she leaves unexpected instructions.
Instead of being buried in America, on the wealthy East Coast where she and her late husband raised their two children, Arethusa has decreed that her ashes be scattered in a remote corner of Ireland, on the hills overlooking the sea.
All Arethusa ever told Faye was that she grew up in a poor farming family and left Ireland, alone, to start a new life in America as did so many in those times of hardship and famine. But who were her family in Ireland and where are they now? What was the real reason that she turned away from them? And who is the mysterious benefactor of a significant share of Arethusa’s estate?
Arethusa is gone. There is no one left to tell her story. Faye feels bereft as if her mother’s whole family has died with her. Leaving her own husband and children behind, she travels to the picturesque village of Ballinakelly, determined to fulfil her mother’s last wish and to find out the reason for Arethusa’s insistence on being laid to rest in this faraway land.
Hardcover, 487 pages
Published July 11th, 2019
by Simon and Schuster UK Fiction
Ever since reading (or audiobooking) the Deverill Chronicles Santa Montefiore has been a go-to author for me. Imagine my surprise when I starting reading this and old friends showed up - I didn't read the blurb but just dove in.
Coming in at 487 pages it's a fair size (as are the previous 3 books) I'll confess to struggling with the first 100 pages or so. The book started great, some mystery and intrigue right away but it seemed flat and it was hard to stay invested. Some parts I found unnecessary but over time it picked up as the past was slowly revealed.
Since its been a few years when I finished off book 3 I think a little family tree would have been a great addition, though the author did refresh past plotlines for me. Faye was an interesting character whose life in the 1960s is summed up here reflecting the time.
"I wish I had had her capacity for pleasure. But I've always been too concerned with making everyone else happy that I've missed out on my own fun. I've never put myself first. But it's not too late. Here I am, alone in Ireland, with only myself to think about. I'm going to be selfish for the first time in my life. I'm going to do as I please. I'm going to be more like Mom."
You don't have to read the previous books, The Secret Hours works well as a standalone, but I recommend going back it's a great series.
This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge.