ARC Review: “The Echo of Twilight” by Judith Kinghorn

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing House for giving me a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I took a break from my regular YA reads to read this historical fiction novel which takes place in WWI England.

the-echo-of-twilightTitle: The Echo of Twilight
Author: Judith Kinghorn
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: January 3, 2017
Length: 416 pages (paperback)
Genre: Historical fiction
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer.
But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress a secret that will bind them together forever…”

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Well, to say that I was underwhelmed with this book might be an understatement. When I read the synopsis, I was thrilled, excited for something that–well, wasn’t what I expected. Yet I wouldn’t say that the synopsis is misleading. There is definitely an “unlikely relationship” between a lady’s maid and her lady, Pearl and Lady Ottoline respectively but it wasn’t in the way I thought it would be and this book took some turns, good and bad, but overall, I’m afraid I can’t find much excitement in it.

And I think that’s one of the main problems I had with the book. It was dull. Pearl was incredibly dull–all of the characters were except maybe Lady Ottoline’s youngest son, Billy, whom I thought was forming quite a good relationship with Pearl until the war broke out. The romance intrigued me but I didn’t get the sweeping gestures and feelings I usually get. Nothing excited me or left me wanting more. I wanted to stop nearly halfway through reading but I pushed through because well, I was nearly to the end.

I can appreciate how Pearl becomes independent. A large part of it is due to the incredible changes the war brought and how traditional roles for women and people in general began to change. I can also appreciate the bond Ottoline and Pearl formed as two women with secrets of their own–secrets they shared with each other but no one else. Yet I couldn’t understand the odd fascination that the main character had with her mother’s choices. Maybe I would have understood if the circumstances around Pearl’s mother had happened when Pearl could actually remember, but that wasn’t the case. Pearl was incredibly determined not to be like her mother and while she accomplished that, in a sense, I still couldn’t come to terms with Pearl’s constant looking back at her mother.

While the ending was happy, it fell flat for me. I guess because I wasn’t convinced of the romance in the first place. Didn’t feel the burning passion and desire. It felt muted and grey, therefore, I wasn’t drawn to it. But I am happy that Pearl herself received her happy ending because she did go through heartache yet continued to remain strong even towards the end.

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