Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Review of Bristol House by Beverly Swerling
This is the first novel I've read by Beveryly Swerling and it caught my attention intially because it's described as having many of the qualities I like in my reading such as historical fiction, suspense, mystery, and ghosts. Dr. Annie Kendall is invited to London to research Judaica for the Shalom Foundation. She is definitely damaged goods with the fact that she's a recovering alcoholic, has lost custody of her only son, and is now seeing ghosts. She knows instantly that it isn't the hallucinations usually associated with drinking, so she draws a picture of the ghost.
While at dinner with a friend, Annie is introduced to Geoff Harris, a big shot BBC reporter who exposes politicians and all their dirty deeds. He inquires about Annie's quest to find evidence of Jews being in London during a time in history where they were killed for announcing so and Geoff is also concerned that maybe her new boss Philip Weinrub has ulterior motives the reasons why this research needs to be done. Geoff is also damaged goods in the sense that he's carrying around the guilt of his past the same as Annie. Eventually, these damaged goods get together in an actually natural manner.
Swerling is able to introduce the historical fiction by the ghosts of the pasts Dom Justin and the Jew of Holborn. I actually found their stories more interesting, and thrilling than the main one involving Annie since she isn't even afraid of the Carthusian monk's ghost, why would the reader be? Dom Justin and the Jew of Holcomb had real fears since the religious unrest during the time in Tudor England made life extremely difficult and unsafe for them. Swerling does an excellent job at transitionining between worlds and making both characters from each side of reality very strong. Her attention to detail is also top-notch. I felt as if I were standing in every room she was describing. Swerling definitely knows how to bring her words to life. I look forward to reading more by this author. ***