Title: The Stranger
Author: Kate Riordan
Publisher: Michael Joseph
In the hushed hours of the night a woman is taken by the sea.
Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in?
In the midst of war three women arrive seeking safety at Penhallow Hall.
Each is looking to escape her past.
But one of them is not there by choice.
As the threat of invasion mounts and the nightly blackouts feel longer and longer, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface.
And no one can predict what their neighbour is capable of . . .
In a house full of strangers, who do you trust?
This is a beautifully written, character-driven novel which takes us to the gorgeous setting of Cornwall, and right back to 1940.
The characters are really well crafted; though each has their own faults (some more than others) they felt far more realistic and convincing for this, and I really warmed to certain characters – particularly Eleanor and Rose. I increasingly wondered who exactly can be trusted and who had any involvement in the disappearance of Diana (this isn’t a spoiler, you find out that she goes missing very early on), which always adds an interesting element to any story.
Although this isn’t a hugely fast-moving story, it is deeply layered and atmospheric; Kate Riordan’s skilfull writing meant that I felt almost like I could be right there with them, in such a beautiful place during such a contrastingly tumultuous time, with all the heightened tensions that such a situation brings. There are also some unexpected parts and twists which kept me intrigued, and some less-than-lovely parts which give the story even more depth and made me really think about the characters’ situations.
Overall I really enjoyed this atmospheric story and feel it would be ideal for anyone who enjoys entertaining historical fiction.
Many thanks to Michael Joseph for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.