#bookreview – Her Mother’s Secret by Rosanna Ley @RosannaLey @QuercusBooks #BlogTour #RandomThingsTours
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Her Mother’s Secret by Rosanna Ley. I will be reviewing the book today and I’d like to thank the publishers and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the review copy and for the place on the tour.
For many years Colette has avoided returning to her homeland – the magical island of Belle-Île-en-Mer in Southern Brittany – afraid to confront the painful memories she left behind. She is living on the Cornish coast when she hears about her mother Thea’s failing health and realises that the time has come for her to go home. But can Colette ever forgive Thea for what she has done?
Despite Colette’s wariness, romantic Belle-Île still fascinates her. She takes on the running of her mother’s flower shop and makes friends with Élodie from the Old Lighthouse where Thea once worked as a nanny and with the enigmatic Étienne who shares Colette’s mixed feelings about the island. As Thea opens up to her for the first time, Colette finds herself softening and being drawn back into the landscape of her past. But can Belle-Île also be a part of her future?
The ghosts of that past still linger. What happened all those years ago and how did it cause the rift between mother and daughter? It becomes clear that the beauty of Belle-Île hides a devastating family secret – one that Colette is determined to unravel at any cost.
Colette fled Belle-Île-en-Mer many years ago, to live with her grandparents in Cornwall. A generation earlier, her mother, Thea, had also run away, to be an au pair in Belle-Île-en-Mer. Like mother, like daughter? Their relationship had been difficult, almost estranged until Thea’s neighbour, Francine, wrote to Colette to tell her that her mother was extremely ill. Colette decided to leave her boyfriend, Mark, behind and return to the place of her birth.
The chapters in this book are told from different characters’ viewpoints. Colette is one of them, but we also hear from Thea. Then there’s Mathilde and Élodie, the mother and daughter of the family Thea left home to work for. And Étienne, a man also adrift due to tragedy and family issues. I particularly liked hearing from Colette and Étienne who find themselves drawn to each other but all the voices are strong and each character has a part of the jigsaw to slot into place, except for Étienne who is more of a support to Colette.
One thing that I couldn’t quite get to grips with was why both Thea and Colette had turned their backs on their family and upbringing quite so easily and with what seemed to me to be little reason for doing so. I guess it’s just a case of wanting something different and feeling out of kilter with the life you have.
I loved how the story unfolded. I had no clue as to what ‘Her Mother’s Secret’ was going to be until just before it was revealed. I think it’s hard to keep twists and secrets from being too obvious and the author really kept me guessing so she did a great job there.
I loved the sound of Belle-Île-en-Mer. The blurb describes it as magical and it certainly came across that way in the book. The lighthouse where Mathilde lives, Élodie’s studio, Thea’s flower shop, all sounded simply wonderful. Having since seen some photos of the island online, I can see that Rosanna Ley was writing truthfully about the beauty of the area. Looking at her other books, I can see that location is a huge part of what she writes and I thought her passion for setting was really clear.
Ley’s writing is very descriptive and very emotive. If I’m completely honest, I felt like I would have liked the story to have moved a bit faster but that’s probably my impatient nature kicking in. I can’t deny how beautifully written this book is and how every feeling and emotion is explored.
There’s a real gentleness about this book, in the pace, the characterisations (nobody really loses their temper) and the island setting. It will transport you to a small French island with no trouble at all and it felt effortlessly French, if you know what I mean. This is one to take your time with and to savour every word – this story cannot be rushed.
Rosanna Ley works as a creative tutor and has written many articles and stories for national magazines. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Spain and Italy. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the sea.