A lost girl. A mysterious house in Ireland. An invitation that changes everything.
Twenty years ago, at the end of a hot long Irish summer, three sisters walk down to the cool lake at their home, Swan Hall. As Maeve and Aisling watch their beautiful younger sister Nuala laughing and splashing, droplets of water clinging to her fair hair, it is hard to hide their envy of her. But later that morning, when Nuala drowns, they are devastated.
Now, as Iris scatters the ashes of her beloved mother Aisling onto the golden leaves of Central Park, she feels very alone. But then hope comes in an invitation across the sea to Ireland from her mother’s sister, Maeve – the sister Aisling left behind and never spoke to again.
Swan Hall is more than Iris could ever have dreamed, sitting on the edge of a lake, full of history. But its dark corridors and staircases are caked in dust, and Iris feels a sense of unease. And then she finds a diary – Nuala’s diary from the summer she disappeared.
Iris’ mother never mentioned Nuala. Why would she have lied? As Iris reads Nuala’s slanting script, she uncovers dark secrets and shocking betrayals, and she begins to wonder: was Nuala’s death really an accident? Can Iris find the truth, and will it change everything she knows about her mother… and herself?
Losing a parent is always hard. It does not matter how old they are or how old you are, it’s always something that turns you life upside down.
When you are young and the only parent you know, dies, it must feel like the end of the world. Who can you turn to? Often you go to the devil you know, but you realise real soon you should have left well alone.
You don’t know what to do until your mother Aisling’s sister Maeve reaches out to you. She still lives in Ireland, the country your mum left about 20 years ago. This is your chance to get to know her and maybe find out a bit more about your mother’s life when she was young.
When you arrive, it seems like you will find out a lot more than you thought you would. Your aunt is not very forthcoming, but a diary will explain a lot. Not everything though. Confession time…
The author makes us travel between Ireland and the US. We follow Iris who is the main character, trying to get her life back on the rails after her mother’s death. The story is told from different points of view.
Ireland is a fascinating country. It was interesting to learn a bit about it’s history and myths. I really like to listen to language and I once, a few years ago, tried to follow a course, but it was so hard. I could not even pronounce most of the words. Unfortunately I had to give it up, but I still thinks it’s a beautiful language. Maybe one day 😊
This is a story about a family who went through the wringer and you would think they would stick together. The truth is something different altogether. Can some things be mended or is all lost forever?
A moving book. 4 stars.
About the Author
Noelle is an Irish author who’s been writing novels and plays for nearly thirty years and her books have been published in over 12 different countries.
She is also published under the pen name Evie Blake and her Valentina Trilogy hit the Der Spiegel Bestseller List in 2013.
In 2014 Noelle was one of 56 Irish Writers included in the anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision Irish Writers on Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, and published by Thames & Hudson.
She has also written five plays – Northern Landscapes, Black Virgin, Runaway Wife, The Good Sister, and Witches’ Gets, which featured in Cymera and Audacious Women Festivals in Edinburgh to sell out houses.
Noelle currently lives in Edinburgh in Scotland, and is one of the founders of Aurora Writers’ Retreats, and part of the wellness hub The Space To BE.
If you like stories written from the heart, historical with contemporary timeslip, family mysteries and secrets, and always, always a love story set against evocative landscapes, you might like to pick up one of her books. Her aim is to tell women’s stories from the past and present and to give voice to those who are rarely heard.