Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/
Cathy has been reading A Bittersweet Garden by Caren J Werlinger.
Fulfilling what seemed like her lifelong dream, Nora McNeill has arrived in Ireland and is on her way to Cong, the location of her favourite film, The Quiet Man. Nora’s grandparents had been born there, were extras in the film’s village scenes, and Nora had been raised on stories of their home town. Now she was here for the whole summer—breaking ties with her domineering ex girlfriend and leaving behind the routine of life as a university librarian. An old friend of her grandfather’s has a cottage for rent that will be Nora’s home while she’s in Ireland.
Sióg Cottage is haunted, according to the locals, who give it a wide berth. Nora soon finds herself caught up in unresolved events from the past with intriguing flashbacks gradually revealing the sad history of the cottage’s previous inhabitants during the famine. The Irish setting lends itself perfectly to the evolving paranormal mystery that ties in to the present. It’s a mystery that draws Nora in almost before she realises what’s happening.
Between them, Nora’s cousin Sheila and her husband Quinn, run a nursery and riding school with stables. Through them, Nora meets Brianna Devlin. Brianna’s life is just how she likes it. She has her dog, Shannon, an Irish Wolfhound, her work with the horses she loves and her friends. She doesn’t want or need a relationship, especially with someone who is only there for the summer.
Nora’s story doesn’t just take the form of travel, it’s also a journey of self discovery and learning to realise her worth, amid the beautifully realised Irish countryside. I love the descriptions of Cong (I love The Quiet Man too, regardless of how un-pc it is) and the vivid sense of place really comes alive. Stories that make me want to visit the area in which they’re set have a strong appeal.
There’s a marked development in Nora’s character as the story progresses with changes mainly in her perception of herself, realising she can be her own person without being influenced by negativity or what other people want her to be. Both she and Brianna become aware of themselves in a more positive light. This is my first book by Caren Werlinger and I enjoyed it very much. I’m sure I’ll be reading more of her work.
Nora McNeill has always dreamed of exploring her Irish roots. When she finally gets the opportunity to spend a summer in the village where her grandparents grew up, the experience promises to live up to her very high expectations. Except for the ghost that is haunting her rented cottage and is soon invading her dreams.
Briana Devlin has arranged her life the way she likes it: a good dog, good mates, and work with horses. There’s no room in her life for a relationship. Especially with an annoyingly clumsy—and attractive—American who is only going to be around for a few months.
The weeks fly by, and Nora’s ghost becomes more demanding, seeking her help in solving the mystery surrounding her death. Briana watches as Nora becomes more wrapped up in the past, seeming to fade away before her eyes.
Past and present are on a collision course, leaving Nora and Briana caught in a ghostly intrigue that could cost them not only their chance of a future together, but their very lives.