Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Newport by Jill Morrow

Anyone who has been to Newport, Rhode Island has seen the opulent magnificence of the summer homes there. But even the staggering wealth of the inhabitants could not shield them from death, not from natural causes or those resulting from the Great War or the Influenza pandemic of 1918. With so many people in the country reeling from the loss of loved ones, spiritualism, contacting the dead from beyond the grave, gained wide-spread acceptance. Some of the mediums were charlatans preying on a grieving population while others might have been sincere in their desire to help the living. Jill Morrow's intriguing novel, Newport, is grounded very much in this decadent Roaring Twenties milieu of riches, loss, skepticism, and the spirit world and its adherents.

Adrian De la Noye is a lawyer with wealthy clients. He and his young, impressionable associate, Jim Reid, are headed to Newport to revise the will of one of the wealthiest, Bennett Chapman, in advance of his upcoming second marriage. But Chapman's rather unpleasant grown children, Nicholas and Chloe, are convinced he's being scammed and want to prevent their future stepmother from getting her hands on their father's fortune. When Adrian discovers that the prospective bride is Catherine Walsh, a woman he once knew with whom he shares a long past history, and that Chapman is certain that his late wife, speaking through Catherine's niece Amy, a medium, has chosen her as Bennett's next wife, he must get to the bottom of the potentially delicate situation and determine whether Chapman is being taken for a ride or whether Catherine and Amy are above board. As Adrian and Jim participate in the séances to call the late Mrs. Chapman, they are each in turn convinced that Amy Walsh is in fact a legitimate medium and that the truths she exposes do come from the beyond becoming as ensnared in the slowly tightening web as anyone.

Morrow does a good job twisting and turning her plot, keeping the reader guessing almost as much as her characters. The eventual revelations and unwinding of the mystery behind Catherine and Amy unmasks the time's terrible disparity between classes, the ease of privilege and the helplessness of the underclass, and the idea of restitution and right. Although this is not a traditional ghost story, the thread of the supernatural weaves throughout the entire story, alternately laced with both skepticism and legitimacy, echoing the way manifestations of the spirit world were viewed at the time. The character of Catherine was very contained but Morrow added just enough of her emotions to allow the reader to question of her motives, flip-flopping between believing that she was an opportunist and that she was honest many times as the tale unwound. Adrian as a character also keeps his cards very close to his chest, not revealing all of his knowledge at one time, patiently waiting to see how much he will be required to expose. The story starts off seeming to head in one way but as the tension rises and the second storyline is added, it heads in a completely different direction. A quick and spell-binding read, the novel offers readers both romance and suspense in its fascinating historical setting.

For more information about Jill Morrow and the book, check out her website, like her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter. Takes a look at the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate a book that can keep me guessing throughout, never letting me figure things out in advance. I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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