Book review: Songs of Love and War byÂ Santa Montefiore
Just as summer finally arrives, up pops the perfect beach read'¦ a sweeping saga of love, family, conflict and betrayal from Santa Montefiore, the queen of classy romance.
Set in the rugged countryside of West Cork, Ireland, in the early part of the twentieth century, Songs of Love and War is an epic tale of three very different women all born in 1900 and all bound together by one grand and beautiful house.
How the friends negotiate betrayal, broken dreams and rebellion is just the first book in what promises to be a thrilling Deverill Chronicles trilogy packed with romance, drama and Montefiore’s special brand of spiritual magic.
The Anglo-Irish Deverill family have lived in the magnificent estate of Castle Deverill since the reign of Charles II but their home is cursed. It was built on land owned by the O’Leary family whose curse means that every Deverill male heir is doomed to haunt the castle until the estate returns to the O’Learys who still live in the local village.
The current occupants give no credence to the curse, except Lady Adeline Deverill and her flame-haired granddaughter Kitty, a lonely and unloved girl who has formed a ‘spiritual sistership’ with Bridie Doyle, daughter of the castle’s Irish cook, and Celia Deverill, Kitty’s flamboyant and mischievous English cousin who visits for holidays.
Together they grow up in the dreamy grounds of the castle but their peaceful way of life is threatened when Ireland’s struggle for independence reaches their isolated part of the country.
A bastion of British supremacy, the castle is in danger of destruction as the war closes in around it, and Kitty, now in love with the rebel Jack O’Leary and set alight by her own sense of patriotism, is torn between loyalty to her Anglo-Irish family and her deep love of Ireland and Jack.
Wrenched apart by a terrible betrayal, and their world turned to ashes, the girls’ friendship seems all but lost as they are swept to different parts of the globe. But they have one thing still in common… a fierce and unwavering longing for Castle Deverill and all the memories that it holds.
Written with her trademark sensitivity and insight, Montefiore’s passionate and enthralling story teems with emotion, drama, tragedy and sensual awareness.
All human life is here within the 500 pages of Songs of Love and War as we move from the wild coastal beauty of Ireland to the busy, beating heart of London and the glamour of New York City in the 1920s.
Real history, intriguing twists and turns, some ghostly goings-on, a cast of compelling characters and Montefiore’s enviable gift for storytelling, ensure that readers will be chomping at the bit for the next instalment.
(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £7.99)