Warning: writing a review for this book is pretty impossible without revealing a few spoilers. Apologies. But I will try to be careful.
I’m saying from the start that I thought this book was great and I would recommend it whole heartedly. That, however, does not stop me from having a few issues, but let me start with the basics. Many I have seen had great concerns for this book before reading as the author, Kirsty Wark, appears to be a big wig journalist and not a ‘proper author’ (*sigh*) thus many thought she would not be able to write a decent novel- it would appear that I live under a rock and had literally no idea about this before reading. I thought the writing style was beautiful, full of stunning description and unique detail that only someone who really knew the setting, Arron, could achieve- which leads me to believe that those that have a connection to arron or know the island well would get a lot out of this story. Those that have been skeptical of Warks ability to write are very misjudged- journalists are the best story tellers- and you can’t tell she is in the public eye (not that it should matter) so don't let that put you off.
That leads me on to discuss the story. This is a beautiful story, and really captures the interest and mystery of other people’s lives. I love that it is told in two voices- that of Elizabeth and Martha’s- and I like that the story is set in two parallel times. The flow is excellent through the story until you reach almost the end where ‘the big mystery reveal’ occurs. Now I have a few problems with this revelation- I felt that clues were left out/ over forced which left the ending a huge surprise but also made it feel out of place and a little rushed; Elizabeth reveal chapter didn’t fit the style of her previous voice which was a little out of character and place. That being said you can't get away from the fact it truly is a tragic story and one that really tugs at your heart. Many would disagree but that’s just the way I feel. The rest however I really liked; well thought out, interesting and detailed. The story is compelling and unique- it fascinating to learn about the amazing things that Elizabeth did and you truly appreciate that others lives can be utterly fascinating.
The characters were also a huge plus for this book: in particular the female characters, which were the focus, and also the different relationships between these females, mothers daughters and friends. Elizabeth's character was wonderful, so interesting and incredibly developed: you couldn’t help but want to learn more about her. Even the minor characters were unique and complimented each other beautifully. The only character development problem I had was with Niall- at the start he is very angry and stand off-ish with Martha which is completely unexplained and continues on for a while untill suddenly their story develops too quickly. This irritated me a little, more due to the lack of explanation than the rushed development.
All in all this book was lovely: beautifully written and incredibly interesting. I would defiantly say it is not designed for a YA audience; more of an adult book as it focuses more on detail and description than action. In addition, this a must read if you have a strong connection to Arron itself. I will definitely be picking up Kirsty Wark's future novels.