Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Visitors by Caroline Scott.
From the highly acclaimed author of ‘The Photographer of the Lost’, a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick, comes a tale of a young war widow and one life-changing, sun-drenched visit to Cornwall in the summer of 1923…
Esme Nicholls is to spend the summer in Cornwall. Her late husband Alec,
who died fighting in the war, grew up in Penzance, and she’s hoping to
learn more about the man she loved and lost.
While there, she will stay with Gilbert, in his rambling seaside house,
where he lives with his former brothers in arms. Esme is fascinated by
this community of eccentric artists and former soldiers, and as she gets
to know the men and their stories, she begins to feel this summer might
be exactly what she needs.
But everything is not as idyllic as it seems – a mysterious new arrival
later in the summer will turn Esme’s world upside down, and make her
question everything she thought she knew about her life, and the people in it.
Full of light, laughter and larger-than-life characters, ‘The Visitors’ is a novel of one woman finally finding her voice and choosing her own path forwards.
I was lost to this novel from the very beginning. It is beautifully written, heart wrenching at times but ultimately a story of courage, loyalty and love.
We join Esme as she is arriving in Cornwall for the first time. She is travelling ahead of her employer, Mrs Pickering, to ensure that all is as it should be for their summer stay with Mrs Pickering’s brother, Gilbert. What she discovers upon arrival is a, mostly, warm welcome and a group of men bound together by their experiences during the war. All are damaged in their own ways and dealing with their own demons.
Esme is also reeling from the losses she endured during the war and is hoping to use her time in Cornwall to uncover a little of her dead husband’s life. Feeling that she knows so little of him she sets out on a quest to uncover more about the husband she will never see again. What she discovers though is something she could never have imagined and it changes he life forever.
Caroline has a wonderful talent of being able to draw you into the story, bringing both characters and place alive. She tells multiple stories as she goes, covering the reality of life on the front line and also the affects that were felt long after the last shot was fired. Although reading in the winter, I was transported to Cornwall in 1923 and war torn France in 1916. I adored this group of character, damaged as they were, there was something about them that made me want to jump in and join them round the table.
This is a novel that shows the dark and light. A story of loss but also reminding us that life continues. We see how the earth recovers after the damage inflicted by the fighting, a metaphor shown in the flora and fauna that Esme writes about during her trip to Cornwall. Past wounds heal and although the scars remain there is always hope on the horizon. I fell in love with Caroline’s Cornwall as much as her characters.
Engrossing, heartwarming and at times funny, this novel was an absolute delight to read. For those who enjoyed Photographer of the Lost, I thoroughly recommend reading this latest offering from Caroline and if you have yet to discover her books and enjoy historical fiction with rich storytelling and memorable characters , well, this could be the book for you. Poignant and beautifully written, this is yet another stunning novel from Caroline Scott.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the lovely team at Simon and Schuster for sending me a review copy.
About the author
Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She developed a particular interest in the impact of the First World War on the landscape of Belgium and France, and in the experience of women during the conflict – fascinations that she was able to pursue while she spent several years working as a researcher for a Belgian company. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in southwest France. The Photographer of the Lost was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.