It was an absolute joy to host author Kirsty Ferry last week with a wonderful post about the historical background to her latest book, The Girl in the Photograph. You’ll undoubtedly be reading a review of that one on Being Anne in the future – but I’m still catching up, and I’ve just finished reading the second in the Rossetti Mysteries series, The Girl in the Painting, released in paperback by Choc Lit on 7th March.
What if you thought you knew a secret that could change history?
Whilst standing engrossed in her favourite Pre-Raphaelite painting – Millais’s Ophelia – Cori catches the eye of Tate gallery worker, Simon, who is immediately struck by her resemblance to the red-haired beauty in the famous artwork.
The attraction is mutual, but Cori has other things on her mind. She has recently acquired the diary of Daisy, a Victorian woman with a shocking secret. As Cori reads, it soon becomes apparent that Daisy will stop at nothing to be heard, even outside of the pages of her diary…
Will Simon stick around when life becomes increasingly spooky for Cori, as she moves ever closer to uncovering the truth about Daisy’s connection to the girl in her favourite painting?
I’m always a total pushover where time slip stories are concerned – but they do need to be well constructed, with a seamlessness and ease around the transition from modern to historical. And this book gave me everything I wanted. There’s a really strong modern story – Cori and her marked resemblance to Lizzie Siddall, her rather eccentric (and so well described) home, her love of Pre-Raphaelite painting (which drove me on-line to find the artworks), her visits to the Tate, her developing relationship with Simon, the finding of Daisy’s diary, the re-introduction of some characters I enjoyed in the first book in the series Some Veil Did Fall, and the mystery behind the model for Millais’ Ophelia. Then there are the supernatural elements, as Daisy (of the diary) intrudes on Cori’s life, putting her in danger by sharing her experience of laudanum abuse. And then there’s the journey back in time to uncover the truth about Daisy’s involvement with the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. When I read Some Veil Did Fall (you’ll find my review here), I wasn’t entirely happy about the historical story being presented as a single block, mainly because I found it a bit of a wrench from the modern story – in this book that approach works quite perfectly, as it resolves the issues at the heart of the story.
The research behind this book shines from every page – you don’t need to be an art lover to enjoy it, but I doubt you’ll find much to criticise. The characters – major and minor – are well drawn and engaging, the romance is convincing, and the supernatural elements mildly unsettling and very believable. Kirsty Ferry writes extremely well – the pages of this book turned very quickly, and I was totally immersed in the story throughout. I really enjoyed this one… I don’t often read a series (and should add that these books can comfortably be read as stand-alone stories) but I’m really looking forward to the next!
My thanks to netgalley and publishers Choc Lit for my e-copy.