The Secrets of the Cave
In the rural village of Oakey Vale, teenage Betty Barnes dreams of becoming a glamorous movie star. Her sister, now her guardian after their parents’ deaths, has moved them back from London to their recently-deceased grandmother’s home to care for their feeble Uncle Albert. A cave nearby hides a grotto where the women of their family, and at least one unlucky man, have been entombed for generations. Betty and Kate have inherited special psychic gifts and were taught the healing benefits of herbal potions by their grandmother. Betty sees visions through touching the personal belongings of others. When she finds the handle of her great-grandmother’s knife she can witness her ancestor’s history. Betty eventually runs away to London and leads a fashionable but rather unsatisfying life that she supplements by holding the knife handle. Still young, and with a broken heart, she eventually returns home where she knows she is needed to carry on the tradition of wise women.
Bowers tells a complex tale of Betty and her friends from the gentleman’s club that intermingles with the effects of World War II. The juxtaposition of her visions brought about by objects furthers the storyline rather than detracts. The parallel stories give insight to current as well as past events, providing hints to tragedies and a future happiness despite her current circumstances.
This novel, second in the Wise Woman series, proves entertaining on its own, but would be best read after the first novel, The Wise Woman’s Tale. Anyone who enjoys magical elements with their historical fiction will find this book enchanting.