Today I am SO excited to be part of the blog tour for The Hidden Years, the new novel from Rachel Hore!
When talented musician Gray Robinson persuades Belle to abandon her university studies and follow him to Silverwood, home to an artistic community on the Cornish coast, Belle happily agrees even though they’ve only just met. She knows she is falling in love, and the thought of spending a carefree summer with Gray is all she can think about.
But being with Gray isn’t the only reason Belle agrees to accompany him to Silverwood.
Why does the name Silverwood sound so familiar?
What is its connection to a photo of her as a baby, taken on a nearby beach?
And who is Imogen Lockhart, a wartime nurse who lived at Silverwood many years ago?
As the summer months unfold, Belle begins to learn the truth – about secrets from the past that have been kept hidden, but also about the person she wants to be.
The Hidden Years captures the essence of what makes Rachel Hore’s books so enchanting for me. The story has intriguing characters and a charming narrative that seamlessly weaves drama and intrigue without becoming overwhelming. The book employs dual timelines to gradually unveil the secrets of a family, a place and two very different eras.
The narrative gracefully shifts between these two pivotal periods. During the 1960s, we follow Belle’s journey as she breaks away from her university life to embrace a communal existence with her (very new!) musician boyfriend, Gray. Meanwhile, the backdrop of World War 2 introduces Imogen, who unexpectedly finds herself appointed as the matron of a boys’ school that has been relocated to Cornwall due to the war. As the stories of Belle and Imogen unfold, the threads connecting their narratives and characters become increasingly evident and compelling.
One of the novel’s standout qualities is its setting. Cornwall is a vibrant, palpable character in its own right. The historical backdrop of wartime Cornwall contributes an extra layer of depth, and adds extra details from an era I find fascinating. Despite the challenges of a wartime setting, including the inevitability of death and destruction, the book manages to balance these details well with the everyday lives of its characters, and the plot never feels overwhelming or overly depressing.
While some plot elements may lean toward convenience, they don’t detract from the overall enjoyment of this well-crafted book. The Hidden Years is a testament to Hore’s skilful writing – if you fancy something enjoyable, and relaxing, this is a great option.
Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.