My review today is for The House at Zaronza by Vanessa Couchman, an historical novel set in Corsica. I’ve never been to Corsica, but the descriptions Vanessa gives of the wild and rugged coastline and untamed mountains gave me a detailed image in my mind, which was perfect as the backdrop to the turbulent storyline. It has also made me determined to visit one day.
The story begins in the present when a young woman arrives in Corsica trying to piece together her past, but with almost all links extinguished can she shed any light on what happened? All Rachel has to go on is that her grandmother lived in Zaronza and her name was Maria, and she hopes that by staying there it will help solve the mystery. What she finds on arrival at the guesthouse is another mystery involving the love letters between a schoolmaster and his secret lover. Rachel is certain that by trying to unravel this story she will find answers to her own past.
Rachel uncovers a memoir and we find ourselves in the remarkable life of an extraordinary woman, who defied what was considered the norms for a lady of her position. She wasn’t afraid to stand alone and act to make a difference. She suffered, both at the hands of those she loved and from the circumstances she found herself in, but she was always caring and determined. The story was powerfully written and gripping. The characters were strong and believable. It covered a fascinating period of history from an unusual angle, highlighting the role of a woman from Corsica during the First World War. This book was like unwrapping a parcel, as every layer unfolded it added a little more, but always leaving so much more to discover.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and I’m looking forward to reading more from Vanessa. The House at Zaronza is published by Crooked Cat Publishing and is available in paperback and ebook format. Links to Amazon are below.