By Lindsay Jayne Ashford: Coming August 25th from Lake Union Publishing (NetGalley Review)
Unique and captivating, this is not just another historical fiction novel about World War Two.
It’s 1943 and war is ravaging Europe. When a young woman with a shaved head and numbered clothing washes ashore on a remote beach in Cornwall, England, her rescuer makes assumptions about her past. Alice’s history, however, is more mysterious and complex than Viscount Jack Trewella expected.
Jack pledges to keep Alice’s secret, providing her with a chance at a new life. The two quickly form an unlikely bond, strengthened by shared tragedy and adversity during WWII. However, as Alice starts to fall for Jack, she discovers the mysterious aristocrat has secrets of his own.
Haunted by memories, Jack and Alice must decide; can they lay the past to rest and forge a new life despite the horrors of the war?
Author Lindsay Jayne Ashford was the first woman to graduate from Queens’ College, Cambridge, in its 550-year history. In my opinion, her background in criminology and journalism lends itself well to her career as a novelist; The House at Mermaid’s Cove is well-researched, concise, intelligent and highly readable.
Many historical fiction novels have been set in England during World War Two, but before you dismiss this as yet another story that romanticizes the period, rest assured the setting and circumstances for Mermaid’s Cove are different. I was expecting a pleasant read, but these particular circumstances quickly drew me in.
What kept me going was the ease of Ashford’s prose. Mermaid’s Cove manages to be suspenseful, melancholy and heartwarming without any superfluous words. It even touches on religion and familial duty without preaching or overt negativity.
The plot drew me in, but Ashford’s writing style kept me going. I finished this thoroughly enjoyable read quickly, amidst a particularly busy week. It has also lead me to add her back catalogue to my To Be Read list. If you enjoy good historical fiction and are seeking a book that’s both full of substance and a great summer read, please do not miss The House at Mermaid’s Cove.