#Review: The Visitors by Caroline Scott @CScottBooks @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours #blogtour #TheVisitors #WW1

By | December 15, 2021

I’m so delighted today to be joining the blog tour for The Visitors by Caroline Scott, and sharing my review. Published on 9th December by Simon & Schuster, it’s now available in hardback, audiobook and on all major e-book platforms: the paperback will be available in June 2022. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).

Caroline’s debut novel, The Photographer of the Lost, made an immense impression on me. In my review (you’ll find it here) I said that what would most stay with me was how it made me feel – the tears I shed for the lost, for those who mourned them, and for the many whose lives would never be the same again. Her second, When I Come Home Again, was equally powerful – all-consuming, a story you feel rather than simply read, writing that took my breath away, emotionally challenging but with touches of lightness and joy that keep alive the spark of hope and the faint possibility that all would be well (you’ll find my full review here). My goodness, I was so looking forward to this one…

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.

For the third time, Caroline Scott has produced a book of the most exceptional beauty – and one so stunning that I have no idea how I can possibly find the words to capture it in a review.

It’s 1923, and seven years since Esme Nicholls lost her husband Alec in the Great War. Their time together was brief, but it was an extraordinary love affair – her great sadness at his loss and her status of widowhood is central to her being – and also forced changes in her circumstances, first working as gardener and then as live-in housekeeper and companion, also writing a newspaper column as their nature correspondent. She finds herself spending the summer in Cornwall, staying with her employer’s brother and the group of damaged ex-soldiers who have made Espérance their home – and, as her husband was originally from Penzance, it also offers her the opportunity to feel closer to the landscape that shaped him, and to find out more about his childhood.

The characterisation in this book is quite exceptional. Esme herself is enveloped in her sadness – everything about her echoes her loss, the dark colours she wears, her attachment to convention, the solace she finds only in the beauty of nature – but there are glimpses of the independent and vibrant young woman she used to be. Through the course of the book and the unexpected twists and turns of the story, she shows extraordinary strength and resilience and slowly rediscovers that vibrancy and sense of fun – it was a sheer joy to see her blossom once more. But the individuals of Espérance are equally fascinating – their camaraderie forged through the most difficult of times, their separate fragilities hidden beneath their eccentricities, their air of bonhomie and their bohemian lives.

The story is told from Esme’s perspective, but interspersed with the nature articles she continue to write – and also passages from an unpublished book, an account of his wartime experiences, written by Rory, one of the band of brothers with whom she develops an attachment that I found both moving and enchanting. Through the pages of that book, Esme hopes to find some understanding, some insight into the experiences that her husband lived through – and she most certainly does, along with developing a deeper knowledge of the horror and immense sadness that drew the individuals together and some of the moments that left an indelible mark on Rory himself.

The writing is ineffably beautiful – particularly in the way it draws on the natural world, the weather and the way it changes both the scenery and the mood, the way it provides solace, the small details of birds and flowers, those splashes of beauty and colour that the author always captures so well. And on an emotional level, I can hardly tell you how very deeply this book made me feel – it’s an entirely compelling story, powerful in its impact, poignant and desperately moving. I loved every single moment – and, once more, I just have to say that the author has produced one of the very best books I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year.

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, When I Come Home Again was one of The Times’ books of the year.


5 thoughts on “#Review: The Visitors by Caroline Scott @CScottBooks @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours #blogtour #TheVisitors #WW1

  1. whatcathyreadnext

    Fabulous review and I agree with everything you say. This is definitely going to be one of my books of the year. I don’t know how Caroline Scott manages to write such wonderful books but I do know I hope she continues to!

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