Monday, 2 May 2011

A Cottage By The Sea

Author: Ciji Ware

Genre: Historical Fiction, Supernatural

Type: ebook for Kindle

First Published: June 2010

First Line: "In Blythe Barton Stowe's considered opinion, justice would have been better served if the earthquake fault that ran under the Los Angeles County Courthouse had simply cracked open and swallowed her husband's vulgar white stretch limousine, passenger and all."

Synopsis: When Hollywood production designer, Blythe Barton Stowe finds her famous producer husband in bed with her sister she quickly divorces him. To get away from the media storm she decides to move to the Cornish coast of England where her family is rumoured to be from. She rents a quaint cottage from the owner of Barton Hall, Lucas Teague.

Blythe finds herself intrigued by his family tree which hangs in his home and is surprised to learn that a woman with her name is on the family tree. As she touches the framed family tree she is taken back in time to when her rumoured namesake, Blythe Barton lived. While taking a peek into the past Blythe learns long hidden family secrets.

My Thoughts: This was a hard book to review. There were times in the book where I enjoyed it. Then there were times when it plodded along. I think overall I felt that this book was OK but felt like the author could have done a lot more with the storylines and pushed things just a bit further with respect to the connections between the past and present. It's definitely not an edge of your seat read but there were some good moments (specifically when Blythe finally confronts her younger sister) but overall the read fell flat.

One of my favourite things about this book were the beautiful descriptions of the Cornish coast of England. Maybe I got swept up in all things British because Will and Kate's wedding was happening as I was reading but, honestly, England (and Scotland) are at the top of my list of places to visit next so reading a great description of a place I want to visit was wonderful.

That being said, there were a lot of things that I didn't love about this book. The supernatural element was too convoluted and unbelievable. I still don't totally understand the whole DNA explanation of the supernatural element. I finally just glossed over those paragraphs because they didn't make any sense to me. It felt like the author was throwing in too many reasons for the supernatural element and it ended up being confusing. I realize that we're talking about supernatural stuff but it still has to have a thread of believability to keep the story grounded. For example, I loved Diana Gabaldon's standing stones idea of a way to go through time. This one just didn't seem as believable with a mere saying of a name and touching some glass. Um, no.

The characters were good but typical. I'm not sure how I feel about the main character Blythe. I love that she's this strong woman but I had trouble connecting this strong, successful, smart Hollywood production designer with the totally cliched country girl from Wyoming who used rodeo lingo to get her point across. Perhaps the author was trying for a 'fish out of water' storyline to make Blythe as opposite to her English neighbours as possible? Who knows. What was annoying was that Blythe kept hearing words of wisdom from her recently deceased Grandma that were more like "Hee Haw quotes from the farm" telling her what to do in times of trouble. They were totally hokey and distracted from the overall story.

I was also hoping for a big romantic love story between Blythe and her English gent but it was more like horny Hollywood gal meets horny Cornish lord. Bring on the bodices to be ripped!

Finally, the epilogue was ridiculously excessive and went into far too much detail. A nice synopsis of what happened to the characters is what I need. Not a blow by blow description of their business etc.

Overall this was just a passable read. Thankfully I got this ebook for my Kindle either free or close to it. If you're looking for amazing historical fiction with a touch of supernatural/time travel please try Susanna Kearsley (a wonderful Canadian author) or Diana Gabaldon's highly popular "Outlander" series.

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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