Reviewed by Kelly Allen
Ellen is in her thirties and is due to be married to an aristocratic gentleman called William. Before Ellen was born, her mother Maddie fled from Ireland to marry an Englishman and never returned to her old life, banished from the family home for reasons nobody – except Maddie herself – fully understands.
When Ellen secretly travels from her family home in London to Ireland to visit her Aunt Peg, she soon begins to feel at home with herself and her ever-expanding Irish family. For once, she is beginning to see what she wants in life and who she really wants to be. With her disappearance a mystery and her old life in the past, Ellen begins to fall in love with the local outcast, a man called Connor, who is rumoured to have murdered his wife at the old lighthouse.
Alongside Ellen’s story is that of Connor’s deceased wife, Caitlin. She is a force to be reckoned with and soon devises a plan to put an end to their romance. She watches their love grow stronger, her children grow, and her mother-in-law take her place at their side. She sees another soul who is full of light and peace, and deep down she longs to have the same aura yet her anger and obsession with Connor and her protectiveness towards her children prevent this from happening.
When Ellen’s mother arrives in Ireland, the truth comes to light about her past and the reason she left Ireland, but is it too late to heal the wounds created so long ago, and will Connor and Ellen have their happy ending?The prologue of this book had me hook, line and sinker. I read it through my tears, imagining my own self no longer in this world and no longer able to protect or hold my children. The prologue alone left me totally and unexpectedly heartbroken. The story develops at a great pace, with both the main female characters developing over the course of the book.
For me, Caitlin’s sections stood out. I was addicted to seeing her viewpoint of everything and I felt her voice was extremely strong within the book. Her story was bittersweet and I felt so saddened by her during the whole book, aware that she needed more help than most people were willing to accept. I also loved Montefiore’s take on the afterlife – it wasn’t religious or ghostly even, yet it encapsulated it in a positive and enlightening way. I especially loved the touches regarding trapped dark souls; the concept that only positive souls were free really worked for me and my overactive imagination, removing the potential scare factor.
Ellen and Connor’s relationship developed very rapidly, yet it still seemed very realistic and romantic. The issues regarding family were really well written too, and it seemed sad to think how much influence family and opinion can have on relationships and love. The parallel between Ellen and her mother’s own story worked really well, and although they were very different outcomes, it was interesting to see how times have changed.
This book is fantastic and I would highly recommend it – just make sure you have tissues at the ready!