The Girl in the Castle

Written by Santa Montefiore
Review by Helene Williams

First in an anticipated trilogy, this is actually the story of many women in a castle, all coming to terms with changing times and loyalties. Castle Deverill is home to Lady Adeline and Lord Hubert Deverill, English landowners in West Cork, Ireland, in the early 20th century. Their granddaughter, Kitty, takes after Adeline, with her special powers of being able to see the ghosts of previous castle residents, who suffer from a curse put on the land by the Irish when the English claimed it more than 300 years earlier. Kitty loves Ireland, the castle, and her Irish-Catholic friends Bridie and Jack, and is determined not to be cold and arrogant towards the locals—her mother Maud has enough hauteur for the entire family. When Ireland is dragged into the Great War, and locals are forced to enlist, though, even Kitty begins to see reasons for the divide between the imperialist Britons and the colonized Irish. She puts herself in danger to help Jack, not noticing that Bridie, a servant at the castle, is making some dangerous choices of her own.

The war, and the ensuing Irish unrest, forces the three friends apart, with each taking the path they must to survive. The lives of the other women—Kitty’s mother, sisters, and cousins—are also affected by political, cultural, and economic, and the sweeping narrative includes subplots of the tensions between women in traditional versus more forward-thinking roles. The focus always comes back to love, however, and the history of Ireland and its troubled relationship with England, however well-described, plays second fiddle to the romance and relationships of the Deverills and their hangers-on. This is a fast, light read with some fantasy elements.