Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Bristol House by Beverly Swerling

Title:  Bristol House
Author:  Beverly Swerling
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages:  416
Published:  April 2013
Publisher:  Viking Adult
Source:  NetGalley

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Kate Mosse, a swiftly-paced mystery that stretches from modern London to Tudor England

In modern-day London, architectural historian and recovering alcoholic Annie Kendall hopes to turn her life around and restart her career by locating several long-missing pieces of ancient Judaica. Geoff Harris, an investigative reporter, is soon drawn into her quest, both by romantic interest and suspicions about the head of the Shalom Foundation, the organization sponsoring her work. He’s also a dead ringer for the ghost of a monk Annie believes she has seen at the flat she is subletting in Bristol House.

In 1535, Tudor London is a very different city, one in which monks are being executed by Henry VIII and Jews are banished. In this treacherous environment of religious persecution, Dom Justin, a Carthusian monk, and a goldsmith known as the Jew of Holborn must navigate a shadowy world of intrigue involving Thomas Cromwell, Jewish treasure, and sexual secrets. Their struggles shed light on the mysteries Annie and Geoff aim to puzzle out—at their own peril.

This riveting dual-period narrative seamlessly blends a haunting supernatural thriller with vivid historical fiction. Beverly Swerling, widely acclaimed for her City of Dreams series, delivers a bewitching and epic story of a historian and a monk, half a millennium apart, whose destinies are on a collision course.

Annie has picked up her life and moved temporarily to London, England to pursue an interesting line of research for the Shalom Foundation – the Jew of Holborn.  She’s been hired to prove that there was a goldsmith in London during the Tudor time.  There are clues pointing to that line of research, but she must prove it and stay alive.

This book took a few interesting twists.  Annie meets Geoff – who just happens to look identical to the monk she say her first night in her rental flat.  The pair are swept up into a mystery that spans centuries, and could lead to a treasure that could change the course of history and their lives.

I loved how the author intertwined history, mystery, suspense and a touch of romance into the story.  It was such a wonderful combination.  Annie is such a fantastic character – she has been through a lot in her life and I felt for her.  She’s trying to so hard to be a better mother and change her life for the better.

Would I recommend this book?  When I first starting reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But as I read further into the story and was drawn into the mystery and how everything fit together – I was hooked!  It is a combination of some of my favorite genres and I couldn’t put it down.  Would I read more by this author?  Most definitely.

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