Claudia N. Oltean
“The Gone Days”
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Landmark sourcebooks, 448 pages, $ 24.29
International bestselling author Susanna Kearsley has just published ‘The Vanished Days’, another of her historical fiction masterpieces and the latest book in her three-part ‘Scottish Series’. I read and marveled this book after having read with happiness the first two of the series: “The Winter Sea” and “The Firebird”. While there are recurring characters between the three books, they each make for a satisfying stand-alone read.
Kearsley has a well-deserved reputation and readership in the historical fiction genre for his meticulous research and exceptional, often lyrical prose. “The Vanished Days” is an immersive dive into Scottish affairs and Scottish affiliations in the late 17th century and early 18th century, during the time of the Jacobite Rebellion.
We meet Lily Aitcheson, a young Scottish woman who files a complaint against the death of a husband who perished while serving his country at sea. What appears to be a straightforward investigation into the validity of his claim ensues. Without wanting to spoil a reader’s experience, what follows is anything but simple. Kearsley’s plot is multi-layered, with plenty of twists and turns. It made me turn the pages. She employs two protagonists to tell the story: Lily Aitcheson, and one of her investigators, Sergeant Adam Williamson.
Through their eyes we learn the story of Lily’s life, starting with the death of her parents in childhood, followed by the series of families welcoming her as she grows up to age. adult. During these years, she experiences some happiness and comfort, but also faces terrifying victimization from two successive male heads of household who force her to flee.
This is a time when women had no personal power, but with each turn of the plot Lily is revealed to be a remarkable and resourceful woman. I encouraged her throughout the book. Ultimately, we learn the startling truth of his claim and the far-reaching political implications it entails. For Lily’s personal story is set against the larger backdrop of the tumultuous events linked to King James’ exile in France and the numerous invasion attempts made by him and his followers (known as the Jacobites) to resume. the Scottish throne.
“The Vanished Days” brings the reader into a time of religious persecution, divided loyalties and violent power struggles between Presbyterians and Catholics for the hearts and minds of the people, and the right to rule in Scotland and England. The story is populated by a number of real people and steeped in mystery, espionage, intrigue, betrayal, and confused identities. I recommend it to fans of historical fiction, Scottish history, or a well-told story full of surprises.
JAcksonville author Claudia N. Oltean is currently finishing a two-book series of historical fiction set during Prohibition / Roaring Twenties.