Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

The Painted Castle

We get three stories in one novel here. Such an interesting twist on a time-slip novel, where we usually get one historical and one contemporary story.

Let’s begin with the summary:

A lost painting of Queen Victoria.

A library bricked off from the world.

And three women, separated by time, whose lives are irrevocably changed.

When art historian Keira Foley is hired to authenticate a painting at a centuries-old East Suffolk manor, she hopes this is just the thing to get her career and life back on track. But from the time she arrives at Parham Hill Estate and begins working alongside rumored art thief Emory Scott, she’s left with far more questions than answers. Could this lost painting of Queen Victoria be a duplicate of the original Winterhalter masterpiece, and if so, who is the artist?

As Keira begins to unravel the mystery behind the portrait, two women emerge from the estate’s forgotten past. In Victorian England, talented sketch artist Elizabeth Meade is engaged to Viscount Huxley, then owner of Parham Hill. However, Elizabeth’s real motive for being at Parham Hill has nothing to do with art or marriage. She’s determined to avenge her father’s brutal murder—even if it means a betrothal to the very man she believes committed the crime.

A century later, Amelia Woods—a World War II widow who has turned Parham Hill and its beloved library into a boarding school for refugee children—receives military orders to house a troop of American pilots. She is determined the children in her care will remain untouched by the war, but the task is proving difficult with officers taking up every square inch of their world . . . and one in particular vying for a space in Amelia’s long-shut up heart.

And now, my review:

I was a bit lost at the beginning. I had somehow missed that this was the third in a series when I volunteered to read for review. You might consider reading books one and two, if you haven’t, before you tackle this one.

That said, each character’s world was engaging. The author has a strong voice. She built three distinctive worlds for this novel, each somewhat enchanting. I did find a spot where the modern heroine’s voice (POV) sounded much like the historical woman’s voice from the previous scene, which section may have been reworked before by publication.

Each of our heroines has a tough challenge to overcome. I liked that they were all strong heroines. Two of them were in art, which is always a fun topic. I enjoyed watching their romances unfold with the heroes of their world. We only get a little time with each, since this novel is divided into three story lines. I admit, given how long the novel is, though I was still interested, I had to move on to another book in my queue before finishing. I think I’d prefer two story lines and a shorter book overall, where we get to dive into each character’s world and enjoy their romance with more layers.

I loved the author’s descriptions. She has a way with her historical voice, with the prose, pacing, and descriptions. I lost myself more easily in the historical story lines. The modern story line seemed to have holes, but that may be because the characters were introduced in earlier books.

These heroines are looking for redemption or vindication or reassurance in a broken world. These are relatable themes, part of the human condition. They don’t see their own courage, though readers will.

If you’re looking for a novel to get lost in, this is it. Overall, the journeys are strong and enjoyable.