In this Victorian dual timeline novel, Amelia Wise feels a jolt when she finds a blue perfume bottle in the overgrown garden of the house she has inherited. Several events in her life mirrors those from the past and, with the help of her newfound cousin, Olivia, the bottle’s secret is uncovered.
This is an enchanting, gentle mystery, but not without some powerful emotions surfacing here and there.
The dual-timeline action takes places half a century apart in 1840 and 1893 and follows the story of the Wise family who lived at Alice Howe. The setting is comfortable middle-class Cumbria, but both branches of the family in the various time periods encounter certain hardships that are daunting but also seem to bring out the best in them.
Our protagonist is Amelia, who is a strong, likeable character, very much of her restrictive time but with rebellion bubbling beneath the surface that portends the coming twentieth century. She’s interesting and draws our interest from the first meeting with her. Some of her relatives are less appealing but nonetheless very rounded and convincing.
The novel revolves around a relatively simple device – the perfume bottle found in the garden that links the time periods – but it is so brilliantly handled by this author that it has great impact. Simplicity really can be the key to a cracking good story! That said, the plot is intelligent and intriguing, and keeps the reader riveted.
This is a very atmospheric and absorbing novel, with a strong family theme, that’s a pleasure to read.
About the author
Married to Don, I have 5 children and 9 grandchildren, I live in Derbyshire, England, and enjoy researching my family tree (having found ancestors as far back as 1465), reading, gardening, playing Scrabble, meals out and family gatherings. I am the treasurer of my writing club, Eastwood Writers’ Group, and I also write and record Thoughts for the Day for Radio Nottingham. At church I sing in the choir and am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a reader, a flower arranger and a member of the fundraising team for Cafod, my favourite charity. I have written hymns, although I cannot read music.
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