Bellewether by Susanna KearsleyBellewether by Susanna Kearsley


bySusanna Kearsley

Paperback | April 24, 2018

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From the bestselling author of A Desperate Fortune and The Firebird, comes an entrancing new novel of love, war, and historical intrigue.

Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.

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. And 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.

Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she starts to delve into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not have been telling the whole story...or the whole truth.
Susanna Kearsley is the award winning author of Undertow, Mariana, Season of Storms, Every Secret Thing, and The Rose Garden.
Title:BellewetherFormat:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8.38 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:April 24, 2018Publisher:Simon & SchusterLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1501116541

ISBN - 13:9781501116544

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful I love Susanna Kearsley and had the great good fortune to meet her once (lovely woman). I love her stories, the way she merges past and present. She has such beautifully realized characters and her attention to detail just adds so much realism to her books. Every story is a jewel and this one is no exception.
Date published: 2018-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book is beautifully written and an enjoyment to read. I was very interested in this book because it deals with the French prisoners of war during the 7-year war (1756-1763). Being a French Canadian myself, I am particularly versed in the "Bataille des Plaines d'Abraham" which occurred in 1759 in Québec City. What I did not know was how French officers and soldiers captured in British territory were treated by the British during this time. Susanna Kearsley's books are always well researched and, although they are fiction, they bring insight into the historical context of the story. Bellewether has two timelines. In the present timeline, Charley Van Hoek, a newly hired museum curator, has been mandated to restore de residence of Captain Benjamin Wilde. While she is researching the history of Captain Wilde, she hears the legend of his sister Lydia who fell in love with Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran while he was held captive on her property according to the treaty of the times. Legend has it that they fell in love and while trying to run away, Jean-Philippe was killed by Joseph, Lydia's older brother and she died of a broken heart. The past timeline, tells the story of Jean-Philippe and Lydia. Legends which are passed on from generation to the next do not always stay true to the truth. Charley is determined to find the truth and will get some help from a ghost who knows more than she expects. I absolutely loved the story and learned a lot more about the kinder side of the 7-Year War. This book is beautifully written and an enjoyment to read.
Date published: 2018-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect for historical fiction fans who like mystery mixed in with their romance! I've been reading historical fiction for a while now, but somehow this was my first time reading one of Susanna Kearsley's books...I can definitely say that it won't be my last though because I absolutely loved BELLEWETHER! I've always been a fan of multi-POV stories, and I love split-timeline narratives, so I really loved how BELLEWETHER was organized. I loved that you got to see Charley's POV in the present time paralleled against Lydia and Jean-Philippe's POVs set in the past, and I really, really loved how the two stories interconnected. Susanna Kearlsey wove the two narratives together perfectly and I loved how when something would happen in one of the narratives, the following section would make it that much clearer in the present part of the story. It was extremely well done and a very thoughtful method of storytelling that kept me riveted to the page! And the romance! Oh boy, did I ever love the romance in BELLEWETHER! I loved Lydia and Jean-Philippe, and I also loved the budding romance in Charley's storyline...I totally called that one and I was so glad that I was right! With Lydia and Jean-Philippe, I loved seeing how their relationship shifted as they got to know one another, and I loved getting to see glimpses of it through Charley's eyes in the present, was like a little romantic mystery wrapped perfectly into the story and I loved it. I also loved being pulled into Lydia and Jean-Philippe's world. Their clothing, way of life, the setting, and everything going on around them were described impeccably and I really loved getting to experience the atmosphere of 19th century America. And I also loved everything about Charley's storyline, from her job to her coworkers to her family...everything! I loved getting excited over the Wilde family's history just as much as she did, and I thought that she was a wonderful character to view the story through.'s time for me to address the ghost in the description. ;) While I tend to stay away from scary things and haven't read many books involving ghosts, I really loved how the whole paranormal elements of the plot came into play in BELLEWETHER. The ghost definitely wasn't scary. Instead, it added an element of mystery and whimsy to the story that I didn't expect and I actually ended up loving the ghostly parts! Overall, I thought that BELLEWETHER was absolutely wonderful! I loved the characters, and I adored how Susanna wove the story back-and-forth between the present and the past. It fit the stories together seamlessly and I loved both storylines so much! I'd recommend BELLEWETHER to historical fiction fans who like a little bit of mystery mixed in with some romance, and readers who love stories that fully immerse them in different times and places!
Date published: 2018-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dual timelines and both were engaging! Susanna Kearsley never fails to blow me away with the sheer level of historical detail and characters that draw me in to their story and make me care. Bellewether is no exception. The writing was so immersive that I could smell the sea air and feel the excitement as ships sail into the harbour. As usual for this author there are two timelines that are connected by a shared geographical location, in this case that place is Long Island. I enjoyed both timelines immensely although I have to admit that the historical story had me full of trepidation. The stakes were so high for the characters and they were in peril so often that returning to the modern timeline was often a relief. In the modern story we get a lovely romance and some museum politics both of which I could not have enjoyed more. In this type of dual timeline I am usually more invested in the historical story but in this one I liked them both equally. I was certain that I knew how the historical romance would turn out and had prepared myself for the worst, the young lovers were known haunt the land as ghosts after all so obviously they came to tragic ends. Happily their story is a bit more complicated and I was genuinely surprised by how it all worked out. Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.
Date published: 2018-07-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good Very similar to her older books. If you like history, and don't mind chapters flipping between two points in time, it's a good read.
Date published: 2018-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great book from this amazing author. My favorite Canadian author. She has yet again managed to write a historical romance/mystery book that weaves intriguing story lines. Creepy hauntings and romances too. Can't wait for her next book.
Date published: 2018-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved This I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. As usual with Kearsley’s books, I was immediately swept into the story. Kearsley knows how to craft interesting, rich stories full of unique characters. As is common with her books, part of the story is set in the present day, and part of it is set in the past. Sometimes I did want more of the present day plot, but other than that the switching time period didn’t bother me. Charley is a fantastic protagonist and I loved seeing her thrive, overcome obstacles, and interact with her family. It felt like a real family, and that’s what I loved. The depiction of grief was also done well, something which is personally very important to me. Lydia is sometimes a less sympathetic character due to her discrimination against the French, but you do understand why she might feel that way. The romance from both time periods is lovely, though very slow burning. They are definitely quiet romances, so I do wish we’d gotten a little more from them. But the ending is rewarding and sweet. What I love about Kearsley’s books, and "Bellewether" is no different, are the mysteries the present day protagonist has to solve. In this case, it’s finding out what happened to Lydia and Jean-Philippe. I appreciate the attention to historical detail, and that topics like slavery and discrimination are handled pretty well. Honestly, "Bellewether" was a book I didn’t want to put down, even when I grew too tired to hold the book. The story is a quiet one of family, love, and loss. It’s about building a life again after tragedy. Sure, the romance was very subtle and quiet, but the end was nevertheless lovely. This book reminded me why I love Kearsley’s work, and made me want to read more. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-05-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another winner from Kearsley I’ve been a huge fan of Susanna Kearsley’s books for a few years now. The Winter Sea and The Firebird, along with A Desperate Fortune are three of my favourite books, so I was excited when Bellewether was announced, especially because the setting is completely different from Kearsley’s other books, which have been set in the UK and Europe. Kearsley is a fantastic storyteller. I love how she weaves the past and present together, and I love learning about historical events and time periods I didn’t know much about previously (I’ve always said that until Outlander, almost everything I knew about the Jacobites came from Kearsley’s books). It’s obvious Kearsley puts a ton of work, thought, heart, and research into her books. I had a couple of personal connections to Bellewether that made me enjoy it even more. I honestly knew next to nothing about the Seven Years’ War, so it was all new and fascinating to me. I loved the ties to Canada and that Jean-Phillipe was Canadian, and I also loved that Kearsley included an Acadian character, since my family is Acadian and they’re so rarely seen in historical books (the only book I’ve read about the Acadians is Genevieve Graham’s Promises to Keep). Something else I really appreciated was that Sam was Mohawk; it’s rare to find Indigenous characters in literature, and I’ve never come across Mohawk characters (other than the love interest in one of my own novels). I live about five minutes outside a Mohawk reserve, so it was nice to feel that personal connection to the various characters. As always, the romances were fantastic. Kearsley is a master of slow burn, and I loved watching Charley and Sam, and Lydia and Jean-Phillipe slowly fall in love. Another aspect I enjoyed was the haunting. It was so creepy, I ended up dreaming about ghosts in my own home, and had to stop reading the book late at night! Overall, I really enjoyed Bellewether and would definitely recommend it to lovers of historical fiction.
Date published: 2018-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly recommend I have read everyone of this author's books, over many years. She never disappoints. Bellewether will appeal to the historical fiction reader. The historical detail here is amazing and of real interest to me, a Canadian well-aquainted with this time period.
Date published: 2018-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing absolutely loved this book. never wanted it to end!
Date published: 2018-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful, absorbing, and incredibly fascinating! Bellewether is an enthralling tale set on the eastern shores of Long Island during the late 1750s, as well as present day, and is told from three different perspectives. Lydia, a strong, hardworking young woman struggling to care and support those she loves in a time of uncertainty and upheaval. Jean-Philippe, a French-Canadian soldier who finds himself captured and a parole of honour in the final pivotal days of the Seven Years’ War. And Charley, an intelligent, independent woman determined to discover all the skeletons hidden inside the Wilde House, as well as her own. The prose is eloquent and expressive. The characters are alluring, sympathetic, multi-layered, and authentic. And the plot is a sweeping saga filled with familial drama, introspection, love, loss, grief, mystique, heartbreak, romance, secrets, passion, loyalty, as well as a little peek into a war that had a tremendous impact on the culture and history of Canada as we know it today. Bellewether is a beautifully written, exceptionally atmospheric novel that transports you to another time and place and immerses you so thoroughly into the personalities, feelings, and lives of the characters you never want it to end. It is without a doubt one of my favourite novels of the year that once again highlights Kearsley’s extraordinary imagination and talent as a masterful storyteller and researcher.
Date published: 2018-04-24

Read from the Book

Bellewether Threshold Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets. The Wilde House, standing silent in its clearing in the woodlands on the eastern shore of Messaquamik Bay, Long Island, holds more secrets than most houses. From the start, in 1682, when Jacob Wilde came across from England and first chose the rise of land above a small cove of the bay to build his house on, it was rumoured he was fleeing a dark scandal in his family. There were whispers he had killed his only brother in a rage, and so had fled to the Americas by way of doing penance. What the truth was, Jacob never said, and if the hands that laid the first square timbers of the Wilde House had indeed been stained by blood, the house stood stoic in that knowledge and concealed it. Like most houses of its time and place, it started as a basic square with two large rooms—a ground-floor hall or “keeping room” and one great chamber on the floor above—and a stone fireplace on the eastern wall. Beneath the rafters was a garret used for storage, and below the hall, reached by a trap door, was a cellar lined with dry-laid fieldstone. In defiance of the rumours, or perhaps to show his soul was blameless, Jacob painted his house white. A pure and blinding white. And yet the whispers held, and grew. They grew when Jacob’s firstborn son, a boy he had named Samuel—for his brother, it was said—breathed only one brief hour and then no more, becoming the first Wilde to be buried in the private family graveyard at the forest’s edge, above the cove. They grew still more when Jacob’s barn was struck by lightning in a storm and burned until it scorched the ground. He built another in its place. And when the living children started coming—first two daughters, then a son he christened Reuben—Jacob took his tools in hand again and made his small house larger in the customary way, doubling its size with the addition of a second downstairs room and upstairs chamber on the east side of the great stone chimney stack, which now became the central warming heart of this expanded dwelling. The house, for those few years, appeared content. Until his younger daughter died of ague and his wife fell ill, and Jacob shuttered up the white house on the cove and moved his family west along the island to the settled farms at Newtown, where he deemed the air more healthful. Another son, named Zebulon, was born there. And in time, when Jacob died, the house at Newtown passing to the elder of his sons, it was this Zebulon who brought his wife, Patience, and their own two small boys back to Messaquamik Bay, and to the little wooded cove, and to the solid four-roomed house that had, for all those years between, stood silently amid the trees and waited. It was not an easy homecoming. His first two children grew and thrived but three more sons were born and lost and buried in the private family graveyard, and through these years of tribulation Zebulon, a carpenter by trade, enlarged the house yet further, stubbornly improving it by building a lean-to along the back wall, thus creating a kitchen and pantry and one more small chamber downstairs, with a steeply sloped garret above. At last another son was born, and lived. And then another. And a daughter, Lydia. It seemed for a time that the Wilde House, at last, would know happiness. But there were locals who still nodded sagely and said there’d been blood on the hands of the man who had built it, and blood would have blood, they warned. Blood would have blood. In truth there were few who were truly surprised by what happened next; for in the mid-eighteenth century, with one war winding its way to a close and another about to begin, it was not such an uncommon thing to find families dividing and splintering under the strain. And if one of the bodies that found its way into the Wilde family graveyard was that of an outsider . . . well, there was violence that happened, sometimes. It was then, in those years, that the light in the forest first started to shine. Sailors on the ships that came to anchor off the cove in Messaquamik Bay would often claim they saw the light within the trees, much like a lantern swinging from an unseen hand. The British officers who occupied the Wilde House in the Revolution swore they’d seen it also, and a young spy for the Patriots had written in his journal of the light that seemed to guide him safely round the posted sentries and which, having seen it first at dusk, he’d fancied had been carried by a soldier in French uniform. The British officers told other tales, of steps that trod the stairs by night, and doors that opened by themselves when no breeze blew to move them, but those tales were told with ale in hand, to test each other’s courage, and when they were gone the old house closed again upon its secrets. As the years passed, its remote location and lack of amenities reduced it to a summer home for Zebulon’s descendants, who by then had relocated to the city of New York. In due time, one of these descendants—Lawrence Wilde, a poet of some reputation—chose to take the money he had earned through publication and invest it in what he desired to be a grand retreat, away from civilized distractions, so in 1854 he had the Wilde House enlarged a final time with a new Victorian addition that amounted to a second complete house, overlapping the footprint of the original and indeed attached to the first by means of opening up a part of the lean-to wall. The house, in this condition, carried down the generations, and the light within the trees still beckoned to the ships offshore. Who held the light, and why, and what that spirit’s purpose might be in the forest, no one knew, though locals often fell to speculating, nodding just as sagely as their forebears had when telling stories of the secrets held within the Wilde House. The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew within its walls as long as it stayed standing; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren’t such easy things to keep.

Editorial Reviews

“[A] deft blending of romance and the Gothic. . . . lush with romantic and ghostly threads.”