Thursday, September 29, 2016

TLC Book Tours: Review of The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pub. Date: September 27th, 2016
Pages: 576


International sensation Santa Montefiore presents the first book in a trilogy that follows three Irish women through the decades of the twentieth century—perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Hazel Gaynor.

Born on the ninth day of the ninth month in the year 1900, Kitty Deverill is special as her grandmother has always told her. Built on the stunning green hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill is Kitty’s beloved home, where many generations of Deverills have also resided. Although she’s Anglo-Irish, Kitty’s heart completely belongs to the wild countryside of the Emerald Isle, and her devotion to her Irish-Catholic friends Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the castle’s cook, and Jack O’Leary, the vet’s son, is unmatched—even if Jack is always reminding her that she isn’t fully Irish. Still, Jack and Kitty can’t help falling in love although they both know their union faces the greatest obstacles since they are from different worlds.

Bridie cherishes her friendship with Kitty, who makes her feel more like her equal than a servant. Yet she can’t help dreaming of someday having all the wealth and glamour Kitty’s station in life affords her. But when she discovers a secret that Kitty has been keeping from her, Bridie finds herself growing resentful toward the girl in the castle who seems to have it all.

When the Irish revolt to throw over British rule in Southern Ireland, Jack enlists to fight. Worried for her safety, Jack warns Kitty to keep her distance, but she refuses and throws herself into the cause for Irish liberty, running messages and ammunition between the rebels. But as Kitty soon discovers, her allegiance to her family and her friends will be tested—and when Castle Deverill comes under attack, the only home and life she’s ever known are threatened.

A powerful story of love, loyalty, and friendship, The Girl in the Castle is an exquisitely written novel set against the magical, captivating landscape of Ireland.

What Did I Think About the Story

The Girl in the Castle is everything I love about historical fiction! While only tackling about 15 years, it has the epic feel often found in family sagas spanning much longer periods of time and fills in an interesting time and place in history with characters who are fighting, loving, and living during it all. I've enjoyed Santa Montefiore's books in the past but this newest novel surpasses them all, in my opinion. in both character and plot development.

One of the key ways this book surpasses the author's previous books for me is the wonderful detail and depth given to so many fascinating characters. All of Santa Montefiore's books are incredible in descriptive details and completely whisk the reader away to windswept shores or green fields, but I've gone back and forth (depending on the story) with a lack of appreciation for her characters and the drama and experiences surrounding them...they just sometimes fell flat. In this novel, however, each of the characters, whether prominent or not (and there are a lot of characters throughout), are all well developed and formed and perfectly served their purpose whether that was to be a hated, loved, or somewhere in between. They are complicated and diverse and even when they made poor choices or hurt other people I appreciated each one for their role in progressing the story. Bridie, Kitty, and Kitty's grandmother, Adeline, are particular favorites and I delighted in going along on all the ups and downs (and there are some extreme downs!) they experienced.

As I mentioned above, I've enjoyed the descriptions and plot development in all of the novels I've read by this author, but I particularly enjoyed this story as it took place against a background I had not read much about before. Taking place before, during, and after the Irish War of Independence I was fascinated to learn about the circumstances of the war and the biting strategies employed by both the Irish and the English during this fight. I loved the fact that the characters actually participated in this drama as well as discussing it and that it was all brought completely to life with the beautiful descriptions of the verdant land the Irish were fighting for.

The structure of the story is wonderful as well, starting in 1925 with two boys playing in the rubble of Castle Deverill as they spy a woman coming to lay claim to the property, then going back to 1910 and progressing until we arrive back to the boys and discover who has returned. The meat in the middle is delicious as it moves from the coming-of-age story of friendship between Kitty, Bridie, and Jack through love and loss and second chances. The epilogue, which leaves this story to continue in the next installment on a shocking realization, ended it perfectly for me and really makes me anxious for the next book to come out (which looks to be coming out in the US in April 2017). I love twist or cliffhanger endings to keep me excited while I wait!

Finally, I can't end my review without mentioning my absolute favorite aspect of the novel: the ghosts! A key characteristic of both Kitty and her grandmother are their abilities to see and interact with the family ghosts inhabiting Castle Deverill as well as the curse that hangs over the family that each male in line to inherit will be forced to spend his afterlife trapped at the castle. Their interactions with these ghosts were funny, touching, and even a bit unnerving at times and I'm really hoping the next installments deal with this topic as well.

The Girl in the Castle has become my favorite of Santa Montefiore's novels. I can't really find fault in it, other than possibly that it could have been a little shorter, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes historical fiction that incorporates drama, passion, and a host of characters searching for their place in a world not fully of their making.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I absolutely love it! The woman on the cover is exactly how I picture Kitty, even having her red hair which I LOVE as so often the covers seems to miss out on the little details (like hair coloring) discussed in the book. Having her sort of loom over the castle and verdant green lawns perfectly captures the story for me. Kitty is intrinsically tied to her Irish land so it would only be fitting to show it as almost a piece of her. One of my favorite covers of the year!

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Thank you to HarperCollins Pushlishers and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of The Girl in the Castle in exchange for an honest review! Continue below for more information about the book, the author, and the rest of the blog tour! 

About the Author

Santa Montefiore was born in England. She went to Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset and studied Spanish and Italian at Exeter University. She has written sixteen bestselling novels, which have been translated into thirty different languages and have sold more than two million copies worldwide.

Find out more about Santa at her website, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Buy the Book

The Girl in the Castle Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, September 28th: BookNAround
Thursday, September 29th: A Literary Vacation
Friday, September 30th: Art @ Home
Monday, October 3rd: I Wish I Lived in a Library
Tuesday, October 4th:
Wednesday, October 5th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Thursday, October 6th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Monday, October 10th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, October 11th: Reading is My Super Power
Wednesday, October 12th: Dreams, Etc.
Monday, October 17th: Literary Quicksand
TBD: Melissa Lee’s Many Reads


  1. Great review. Definitely my type of book, and I also love this cover. Have added to my TBR list!!

    1. Thank you, Letty! And yay, I hope you get to read it soon!!

  2. My Gram was born in the north of Ireland in 1924 and grew up in that era. I absolutely LOVE reading books that give me an insight to the world she grew up in. Of course, in her childhood there weren't any ghosts, which I'm sure she's grateful for!

    I'm so looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    1. That's awesome, Heather! I'm sure she had wonderful stories to tell you growing up! I hope you love the book as much as I did!