Friday, February 15, 2019

Book Review - Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron

Book Synopsis
A storied castle. A band of rebels.

A nation chasing a centuries-old dream of freedom.

And three women who rise above it all . . .

When Laine Forrester travels overseas to attend her best friend’s vineyard wedding, she expects to find the bride on the brink of a fairy-tale life. But after a series of unforeseen setbacks, it seems the storybook lives they’d imagined are suddenly ripping apart.

With hopes of resurrecting a happy ending, Laine agrees to accompany the newlyweds to the groom’s home in Ireland—never expecting she’d be the one drawn in by its wide-open moors, backroads bordering the Irish Sea, and a mysterious castle that dares to keep its secrets hidden.

From the storied streets of Dublin to the shores of the Emerald Isle, Laine is drawn in to the land and its rich history. The castle ruins whisper stories of Issy—a photojournalist battling through the 1916 Easter Rising, and Maeve—the castle’s lady of legend, fighting for survival through the 1798 rebellion that started it all.

Spanning more than two centuries, Castle on the Rise unites the legacy of three women who must risk mending the broken places within for life, love, and the belief that even through the depths of our pain, a masterpiece of a story can emerge.

My Review
Castle on the Rise begins with Laine Forrester traveling to her best friend Ellie's wedding in France.  They all travel on to Ireland.  From there the story branches into three storylines:  we have Laine, a newly divorced single mother, in present day;  Issy, a budding photojournalist, in 1916 Ireland;  Maeve, an Irish lady in love with a pirate during the 1798 Irish rebellion. 

This is the second book in the Lost Castle series.  I read the first book last year, and it was one of my favorite books of 2018.  I was so glad to read more about Ellie (from The Lost Castle) in this book, and to continue her story.

There are three Irish stories that comprise this book.  It took me a while to find my footing as a reader, as the storylines switched back and forth on a chapter to chapter basis.  I was most interested in the contemporary storyline of Laine, recovering from a painful divorce and slowly warming to Ellie's brother-in-law Cormac.   I really liked Laine as a protagonist.  She has a background in antiques, as I do, and I found her work researching antiques at the family's castle to be fascinating.   I also loved Cormac as a romantic lead.  He was so quiet and wise.  I marked his line to Laine in the book:  "Funny thing about Dublin -- the rain always stops, just not in the moment we may want it.  So like God.  His plan, His timin'" (p. 176).

Issy's 1916 storyline was also very interesting.  I especially liked the details of early photography, and her fascination with her new Kodak camera, as well as her dedication to chronicle the Easter Rising on film.  I loved this description:  "Issy squeezed the camera case just to feel the leather against her skin.  How she wished to capture the moment -- anything to remind her that the world had so much more to offer than what transpired within the confines of ladies' parlors in County Wicklow" (p. 85).

Maeve's storyline was a little harder for me to get into, although I enjoyed it more as the book went on.  I often read and enjoy dual storyline historical fiction, and perhaps I just found triple storyline fiction a bit of an adjustment.  

Kristy Cambron's descriptions are beautiful.  She has a masterful ability to create a strong sense of time and place.  I loved her description of places in Ireland, and especially loved the castle that figures prominently in this story.  

The storylines all came together in an interesting way -- with some good detective work from Laine and Cormac.  Without spoilers, I will add that I loved the last chapter of the book.

I recommend the Lost Castle series to fans of historical fiction, and especially to readers who want to explore another time and place (and who love mysterious old castles!).  I look forward to reading the third book in this series.

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