Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Review: A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread — its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal's cipher. But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal's reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn't hold the secrets Sara expects.

It turns out that Mary Dundas wasn’t keeping a record of everyday life, but a first-hand account of her part in a dangerous intrigue. In the first wintry months of 1732, with a scandal gaining steam in London, driving many into bankruptcy and ruin, the man accused of being at its center is concealed among the Jacobites in Paris, with Mary posing as his sister to aid his disguise.

When their location is betrayed, they’re forced to put a desperate plan in action, heading south along the road to Rome, protected by the enigmatic Highlander Hugh MacPherson.

As Mary's tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take... to find the road that will lead her safely home.

Paperback, 528 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Sourcebooks Landmark

Terri's Thoughts

This book has been on my to be read shelf since before it was released.  Based on the fact that it was published over a year ago, it is clear that I am behind on clearing out this shelf.

For those that are aware of this authors work, this story is classic Kearsley.  Blending the current day with a mystery from the past to weave together two stories.  Those familiar will also recognize her favorite theme of using the Jacobite period to center her story around.

Many times in these sorts of stories I find I always gravitate towards the story of the past and the present day story tends to fall short.  This is not the case with this story as I was just as invested in Sara's story as Mary's.  In fact in my opinion this is something that Kearsley does well by making both storylines equally interesting.

I am not going to spend a lot of time regurgitating the story.  I feel that fans of historical fiction will have already discover Kearsley by this point of time and this story as a result.  If not, I highly recommend that you become familiar with her work.  While this story did not capture me as much as Mariana or The Winter Sea (which I think has since been renamed), it still tells a good story that I have come to expect from this author.  Susana Kearsley remains one of my go to authors for stories I know I will enjoy and I look forward to her next work.

About the Author

Susanna Kearsley studied politics and international development at university, and has worked as a museum curator.

Her first novel Mariana won the prestigious Catherine Cookson Literary Prize and launched her writing career. Susanna continued her mix of the historical and paranormal in novels The Splendour Falls, Named of the Dragon, Shadowy Horses and Season of Storms.

Susanna Kearsley also writes classic-style thrillers under the name of Emma Cole.

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