Rating: 4 Stars
Published: August 2001
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Fiction /Mystery
Celia Sands is an aspiring actress named after an actress that disappeared in the 1920s. She has two adopted father figures (friends of the family) and an eccentric actress mother who she never talks to anymore. Her father figure, Rupert, is about to direct a play in Italy and recommended to the proprietor to cast her as the lead. It fits perfectly because originally, the play was set to perform with the first Celia Sands as the leading lady. The night before the first performance is when she disappeared and its said the play has been cursed. Rupert, however, is determined to put it on.
In Italy, things start to go wrong. And Celia might be starting to fall in like with the heir putting on his grandfather’s play. What happens when spirits are called upon and things start to go awry?
Recently republished, I thought it was actually a new book. I was surprised to find out that it was actually published in 2001. Nevertheless, I was happy to read it. Though, I don’t think it was necessary to put that the novel was written before the common use of cell phones. I think the book gained something from the disadvantage of not being able to communicate easily. It made everything more interesting and suspenseful. Plus, a writer should never have to apologize for their choices in their world. Celia Sands very well have just been living in a world without cell phones and widespread use of email and that’s cool.
I allowed myself to be swept up by the story and I didn’t keep guessing who the bad guy was, I just let it happen. The mystery of what happened to the original Celia was compelling and I liked slowly finding out over the course of the novel. I liked reading about the mystical elements like the Tarot cards and the ghosts. The magic/paranormal aspects was subtle enough that it didn’t distract from the realness of the story. I liked that this had little elements of everything: theatre, drama, paranormal/mystical, historical fiction, mystery, and romance. The relationship that Celia has with her pseudo fathers is something I envy. And of course, falling in love in Italy? What’s more romantic than that?
I fell in love with Susanna Kearsley’s writing when I read The Firebird. I thought it was a standalone novel so of course, I’m going to read The Winter Sea soon. I just happened to come across this first.
Bottom line: Susanna Kearsley knows how to to tell a story. I am always captivated by her writing and this book is no exception.