The Secret of Eveline House – Sheila Forsey

Five of five stars given

We meet Violet Ward in Draheen in 1949.  She’s returned to Ireland with her husband and their young daughter at his behest.  He too is Irish and it had always been his dream to return to his beloved land.

Violet has no such happy memories, but she’s a playwright and as she can work anywhere, she agrees to make their home in the land to which they both owe their heritage.

But it’s not the happy homecoming they envision.  Violet’s family refuses to have anything to do with them, not even replying to her letters.  The town of Draheen is determined that the author of such filth – the Ireland of old was locked down under the heavy hand of the Catholic church – should find no comfort in their midst.

Strange and disturbing things start happening to young Silvia.  Henry refuses to countenance the thought of returning to London.  And suddenly one morning, Violet disappears.  Thought to have run away.

Having succeeded in ridding themselves of the playwright, the village of Draheen returns to its superficially devout Catholic ways.

Until, some 70 years after it’s been left locked up, Eveline House has been sold.

In trying to make Eveline House her own, Emily piece by piece unearths the sordid truth, with the unexpected involvement of Silvia herself and, in the end, Emily’s own mother.

A gripping tale.  The characters are engaging.  The story itself filled with twists unexpected, and much sadness too.  I couldn’t help myself but had to keep reading.

If there’s one thing that was dissonant in this book it was the last fifteen or so pages.  The telling of the few pieces still missing of Violet and Silvia’s story.  It just seems so out of character with the style of the rest of the book.  Whereas Hallward weaves an enthralling tale throughout, these last pages seem to have been written by someone else.  Rather than a continued telling of the tale, it’s a laundry list of events as if to bring all the open threads to a close.

Still, I found the book held my interest, and I turned page after page to learn Violet’s story.  The outcome was not what I would have liked, but it was almost inevitable that it should have happened that way.

I highly recommend!

[Many thanks to Booksirens and the author for the opportunity to read a copy of this book.  This is my honest review, the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.]

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