Tuesday 22 July 2014

Review ~ Darkling by Laura Beatty

Random House UK, Vintage Publishing
June 2014
This dual time narrative shares the story of two very different women. In the present day, Mia Morgan is tormented by grief and the unhappy memories of her late lover, her blind father and of a family secret which is best forgotten. Four hundred years in the past, Lady Brilliana Harley, is caught up in the conflict of the English Civil War and as her husband gets dragged into the conflict, Brilliana learns to defend her family with a strength she didn’t knew she possessed.

On the surface, these two women have little in common but gradually the pieces start to reveal common similarities and using the research left by her biographer lover, Mia starts to pick up Brilliana’s story of a strong God fearing, Puritan woman, who was living in a county of Royalists. Based on factual evidence, Brilliana, a prodigious letter writer really comes to life, and the skilful interweaving of both fact and fiction is cleverly achieved.

The story is rather slow in places and it took me a little way into the book before I began to warm to Mia’s style of observation but what is undeniable is the beauty and prose of Laura Beatty’s writing. There are some lovely descriptive passages and I found the opening chapter about the eye of the hawk quite enchanting. She describes the natural surroundings very well, so much so that Hereford, the area of Welsh Marches around Brilliana’s castle of Brampton Bryan, starts to come to life.

I think perhaps the most fascinating concept I will take away from this story is the strength of  Brilliana Harley's character and what a lasting legacy she left behind with all her letters and observations of a very troubled time in England’s history.

My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Vintage Publishing for my copy of this book.


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