Sunday, April 1, 2018

G928 Book Review of House of shadows by Nicola Cornick

Name of Book: House of Shadows

Author: Nicola Cornick

ISBN: 978-1-525-81138-8

Publisher: Graydon House

Type of book: 1596, 1631-1662, 1801, modern times, mystery, disappearance, diary, younger male/older woman pairings, unrequited love, Ashdown Estate, love, forbidden romance, second chances, United Kingdom, Elizabeth Stuart the Winter Queen, William Craven, destiny, prostitution, scandalous diary, friendships, betrayal, magical realism

Year it was published: 2017


The wooded hills of Oxfordshire conceal the remains of the aptly named Ashdown House--a wasted pile of cinders and regret. Once home to the daughter of a king, its secrets will unite three women across four centuries in a tangle of romance, deceit and destiny...

1662--A queen

Bound by sex and birth to live for everyone but herself--and to love always in secret--Elizabeth Stuart entrusts a pair of arcane artifacts to her faithful cavalier to keep safe for her rightful heir. But fate will not be generous to the Winter Queen, throwing the question of succession into turmoil, the aftermath of which will resonate through the generations.

1801--A courtesan

Lavinia Flyte wanted so much more from life than to be a courtesan at the mercy of the cruel Lord Evershot. He has brought her to Ashdown, the home of his ancestors, for reasons he guards greedily. But the maids' whispers of hidden treasures--a pearl with the power to foretell the future--consume her with a curiosity she confides only to her diary, unaware of the misfortune that threatens.

And the mystery that binds them

Alarmed to hear her brother has gone missing at Ashdown Park, Holly Ansell is inexplicably drawn to the clues contained in the journal of a Regency courtesan who was living at the historic home when it burned to the ground two hundred years ago. Lured by the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly's search leads her not only to the truth about Lavinia, but deeper into her own connection with the Winter Queen.

For fans of Kate Morton and Barbara Erskine comes an unforgettable novel about the power one lie can have over history.


Main characters include Holly Ansell who creates glass objects/sculptures. Holly is loyal, a tough nut to crack and is extremely loyal to her older brother. She also was raised by her grandparents and is a bit prickly. Elizabeth Stuart was named after Queen Elizabeth and is the daughter of James I of England and Scotland. She was given a magical pearl and has always put duty above pleasure. She also is very loyal be it to her husband or her unrequited love, William Craven. Best way to describe William Craven is pragmatic, ambitious and someone who wants to be more than just a mere label. He, like Elizabeth Stuart is loyal and devoted to her and her husband and is younger and comes from a commoner family. Lavinia Flyte is also a tough woman who is determined to do what she can for a better life, although there are limits. There are tons of other characters such as Mark who is Holly's love interest, but it would take me too long to describe them all.


Romance is wild and unexpected


The story is written in third person narrative from Holly's, Elizabeth Stuart's, William Craven's points of view. In a diary form, Lavinia Flyte is telling the narrative in first person narrative. This is one of the rare books that seems to get the perfect mixture of mystery, history, women's issues and romance just right without getting it overwhelming and clunky. The author deftly handles the issues and focuses on a lot more than just romances.  I think if there is a minor criticism it would be a bit with magical realism aspect because I honestly didn't really understand the Pearl's influence on everyone's  lives. Other than that the characters, the story lines were incredibly fascinating and one almost wishes that it was more real than fiction.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Nicola Cornick is a historian and author. She studied at London University and Ruskin College, Oxford, and works for the National Trust as a guide at the seventeenth-century hunting lodge Ashdown House in Oxfordshire. Her award-winning books are internationla bestsellers and have been translated into twenty-six languages.


I am only sorry that it took so long to read this novel. I was very surprised to get it because I don't recall entering any contests or making requests for this particular book, yet one day it came. While the summary was pretty interesting because I have typically read books with dual point of view, I haven't read stories or books that deal with three points of view. One of my friends, Mary, has urged me to read the book, and I ended up falling in love with the writing, the perfect balance of history, mystery, second chances, romance and women's fiction, a little bit of everything for every reader there is. There is also some magical realism and how one choice can destroy future generations. The author vividly paints her passion across the beautifully crafted sentences and pages that will inspire people to either read more books by her or to do their own research about William Craven and his forbidden lady love. I also loved that it had my favorite elements such as younger male/older female pairing, and royal noblewoman/commoner male. For a wonderful yet elusive blend of perfection that's achieved in this story, pick up the book and become lost in the beautiful and haunted world of destined lovers.

This was sent to me for a review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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