It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous.
When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war.
Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily.
Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum. from Goodreads
This was my first book of the year and it took me a while to become invested in the three characters whose stories make up Bellewether. Charley who moved to the area so that she could live with her niece after the untimely death of her brother, took a job as museum director of the under construction Wilde House. There she encountered maybe my favorite character of the book, the ghost. There was also a cute contractor and some animosity toward the grandmother she’d never met who lived nearby.
As for the 1700’s storyline, we move between Lydia and Jean-Philippe’s perspective as the former tries to come to grips with unwanted houseguests and brothers with problems of their own. Jean-Philippe only spoke French, so for much of the book he didn’t communicate freely.
I liked getting a deeper understanding of the war and what was happening in the region. Some of these characters were based on real people or compilations which made the story richer, but maybe not quite as fanciful as I’d hoped. There was romance, sure, but most of Kearsley’s books feel magical and this one didn’t quite get there for me. It’s still good and I really enjoyed the multitude of characters and history. My favorite ghost saved the day and the end was excellent and worth reading 400+ pages.