#bookclub Feature by SJV
2017/09/22  |  By:   |  Features  |  

This week on #bookclub we welcome Amanda who runs the Ampersand Book Reviews blog and is a HUGE Santa Montefiore fan – as these three reviews for her Deverills series show…

First up, Songs of Love and War.

songs-of-love-and-war-9781471135866_lg“As much as I really do love chick-lit, it is this kind of book that made me really fall in love with reading. Songs of Love and War swept me away to a time and place that I could only ever dream about . Set in 1910 in an Irish castle, it truly is an epic saga, the kind of story that would sit comfortably as a serialised television drama.

The story follows Kitty Deverill, Anglo-Irish daughter of the Castle, Bridie Doyle, Irish daughter of the Castle’s cook and Celia Deverill, Kitty’s English cousin as they grow up together. Celia joins the girls every year when her family come over from England to spend the summer at the Castle. Bridie’s home life is devoid of any of the privileges enjoyed by Kitty, but this doesn’t stop them becoming best friends.  When the Irish rebel against the English as they battle for independence, the safety of the Deverill family is threatened and amid love, secrets and lies the girls are parted, their lives changed forever.

The characters within the book are all bursting with personality. Kitty is fiery, determined and fiercely proud of her Irish heritage with Bridie equally strong-willed. Kitty is shown little affection by Maud, her mother, but she shares a special relationship with her grandmother, Adeline, who drinks a special blend of tea that I found particularly amusing. The addition of “The Shrubs”, (you have to read the book to understand), was just the cherry on the cake for me. They are adorable.

Nail-biting tension, love, loss, betrayal and heartache all make this a real page-turner. I fell in love with these characters and although I was sad to come to the end of the book, I was thrilled to learn that this is part one of a trilogy.”

Next we have Daughters of Castle Deverill.

daughters-of-castle-deverill-9781471135903_lg“Wow, wow and wow again!! I read Songs of Love and War and was totally blown away by it, so I was absolutely thrilled to discover that it was the first part of a trilogy and I immediately pre-ordered part two. As soon as Daughters of Castle Deverill appeared on my kindle, I literally dived in. I never dreamt that part two could be anywhere near as good as part one, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Daughters of Castle Deverill began just where Songs of Love and War left off and it took this epic drama to another level. The characters I fell in love with in the first book all grew in personality and there were several new additions, an eclectic bunch that I would never in my wildest dreams have thought had a place in this story, but they just added to the wow factor that this book delivers. The part played by “The Shrubs” in this book ( sorry, but I don’t want to spoil this treat for you by telling you what they are), was a touch of genius. I loved them in part one and totally adored them in part two.

The story continues, it’s 1925 and a new owner moves into the castle, but after a massive refurbishment there is a shocking discovery. Kitty, Bridie and Celia, upon whom the story is largely based, all face life-changing decisions in one way or another, unsavoury characters rear their ugly heads and along with the revelation of long hidden secrets, this book embodies the great television drama serial it will one day surely become.

There is only one negative comment I can possibly make, and that is that I have to wait until next year for part three. Both books could easily be read as stand-alone novels, though I highly recommend you read Songs of Love and War first, purely because it is so good and will add to your enjoyment of Daughters of Castle Deverill.”

And third, but by no means last – is The Last Secret of the Deverills.

the-last-secret-of-the-deverills-9781471135927_lg“This is the third book in the Deverill Chronicles, and after loving books one and two, I couldn’t wait to be swept away back to Ballinakelly, Ireland, for book three.

It’s now 1939 and this captivating, historical drama, centered around Castle Deverill and the lives of Kitty, Bridie, Celia and co. continues. We say a sad farewell to some favourite characters but also welcome a new generation who have to deal with the devastating consequences of their elders’ secrets and lies, both past and present. The outbreak of war brings a distraction from torment for some but tragedy for others.

A tale of forbidden love, brutal murders, bitterness and regret, but also of forgiveness, this book ticked all the boxes for me. It took me to another time and place, far away from real life, where it made me gasp, smile and with a wipe of my eye, left me heaving a sigh of total contentment.

Although the final book in this trilogy, it can be read alone, but honestly, you really should read all three and you’ll enjoy a truly wonderful fictional journey.”