Beyond a Broken Sky
by Suzanne Fortin
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Pub Date 21 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 21 Jul 2022
Head of Zeus, Aria
Some secrets are better left buried...
2022. Stained-glass expert Rhoda Sullivan is called to Telton Hall to examine a window designed by an Italian prisoner of war during WW2. It should be a quick job but when she and the owner's son, Nate Hartwell, discover a body underneath one of the flagstones in the chapel, Rhoda cannot let the mystery go. She knows what it's like to miss someone who is missing – her twin brother disappeared just before their eighteenth birthday, and she has been looking for him for nearly a decade. But when the threats start, it's clear someone doesn't want the secrets of Telton Hall to come to light.
1945. Alice Renshaw is in trouble. Pregnant and alone she is sent away to hide her shame and taken in by Louise Hartwell who has a farm in Somerset worked by prisoners of war. As the weeks pass, Alice finds solace in new friendships, but not everyone at Telton Hall is happy about it. And even though peace has been declared in Europe, the war at home is only just beginning...
Praise for Suzanne Fortin:
'The story brings a warm sense of hope and is moving and joyful in equal measures. A triumph' Celia Anderson
'This story has great depths of emotion, highs and lows, and I found it utterly gripping!' Christina Courtenay
'A deeply moving story of love in all its forms – I adored it' Mandy Baggot
'Five stars' Poppy Alexander
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 20 members
In 1945, being pregnant and unmarried was a huge stigma. Alice Renshaw has been taken in by the kind owner of a farm, Telton Hall, in Somerset, Louise Hartwell. Alice is a bit nervous about the Italian POWs that are working the farmland, but she soon finds herself making friends and relaxing in the company of Louise and her workers. But not everyone is as accepting of the Italians and they are more than willing to make their feelings known. In 2022, Rhoda Sullivan has been called to Telton Hall to repair a stained glass window made by an Italian POW during World War II. She and the owner of the Hall’s son, Nate Hartwell discover human remains under the flagstones in the chapel and Alice is determined to discover who this unfortunate soul was. She’s never gotten over the disappearance of her twin and so knows all too well the heartache of not having answers when someone vanishes. But even all these years later, there are some who are determined that Telton will not give up its secrets. A mystery, a love story and a historical novel all rolled into one; I read this in one sitting
Museum worker and stained glass restorer Rhoda Sullivan gets pulled into a mysterious case of a skeleton found under an old chapel floor.
Forced to move from his family farm, Jack is understandably a curmudgeonly seventy-year old. His son Nate has tried to smooth the waters between the developers forcing Jack out and his father to little effect. When Rhoda shows up from the museum to determine how to restore stained glass in the old, abandoned chapel on Jack’s property, she meets him and Nate. Rhoda immediately gets along with Jack and he allows her to see the window.
Jack’s little dog got into a hole in the floor, while trying to get him out, Rhoda and Nate discover a skeleton. When the police decide that it is too old to investigate; that they don't have the resources, Rhoda and Nate decide to investigate themselves.
Rhoda’s history has made her who she is. A string of foster homes and a twin brother who has been missing for several years have made her guarded and not too trusting of others. This, naturally, gets in the way of relationships.
Rhoda and Nate begin to receive threatening messages. Then things escalate with personal attacks. The police don’t seem very interested.
Rhoda’s snooping around Jack’s house gives some clues. There are flashbacks to 1945 by which the reader understands more of what is going on than Rhoda and Nate. There we meet Alice, Lily, young Jack and Aggie. And, of course, the Italian prisoner Paolo.
When all is revealed, it makes sense.
This is a well written and plotted novel. I liked the characters with the exception of Billy (of course). Ms. Fortin has her protagonists and the lesser characters have interesting backgrounds. The details given were important to the development of the story. A very nice mystery. I will definitely look into her other books.
I want to thank NetGalley and Head of Zeus/Aria for forwarding to me a copy of this very good book for me to read, enjoy and review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.
Thoroughly enjoyable book with a dual time line (WW II and modern day) set around a mystery body found in a chapel.
The characters are well drawn, believable and engaging. The story kept my interest till the end which was a satisfying one.
I shall look out for further books by this author.
Well written with a compelling storyline that was spread over a dual timeline and well developed characters some of which I loved. I was gripped right from the start and couldn't put ti down.
Beyond a Broken Sky by Suzanne Fortin
A very good dual timeline set in 1945 and present day.
In 1945 we follow Alice Renshaw , and in the present Rhoda Sullivan . The link is Telton Hall in Somerset.
I loved both of these characters in the book as well as all the others , even the not so nice ones !
The author was very clever in her plotline and I very much enjoyed the two stories as they ran independently as well as when they were entwined . A great ending . I was sad when the book ended , and will look out for other titles by this author.
Beyond A Broken Sky is a dual timeline novel that is beautifully written and totally engrossing. Suzanne Fortin has used the history of 1945 England facing the last months of WWII, Italian POWs, who worked the farms, a cast of interesting characters, and combined them all into an engaging story.
I do not want to give away the mystery and so no spoilers will be recounted. I was pretty sure I had figured out the mystery, but there were a lot of red herrings to keep the reader turning the page. I enjoyed this novel and would certainly recommend it.
I want to thank the author and publisher for providing this ARC for me to read and review. These comments are my honest opinions. Thank you also to NetGalley for introducing me to so many wonderful authors.
Well crafted characters, an underlying sense of menace and an immersive narrative combine for a suspenseful, one sit read. So heartwarming... when you're not reading this book, you'll be hugging it. Remarkable characters, who will stay with you for a long time.
Beyond a Broken Sky is another fantastic read by Suzanne Fortin. It's a dual timeline between the WWII era and present-day Somerset, England. With a hint of mystery, it will keep you turning pages. Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
A story told in dual timelines, one is set in World War Two and the other is in the present..Both stories are intriguing and well written and I loved swapping from one to the other, there's also an element of danger in both stories. It is a book that I can highly recommend
A wonderful dual timeline novel. Set in 2022 Rhoda visits Telton Hall to preserve a stained glass window designed by an Italian prisoner of war in 1945.
In 1945 we meet Alice who goes to Telton Hall in shame after becoming pregnant and alone.
Whilst investigating the Chapel where the window is in situ, Rhoda discovers a skelton. This discovery starts her on a journey to discover who the bones belong to, but at each step she receives threats as someone doesn't want secrets from Telton Hall discovered
A moving story showcasing that love can conquer all. Both timelines are engaging and link well together
Rhoda works in a British museum evaluating and repairing stained glass windows. When she is tasked to evaluate and prepare to move the stained glass windows in a small chapel on an estate, she never dreamed she would uncover a murder that dates back seventy years. Family secrets are uncovered, and new relationships are formed.
Beyond a Broken Sky, by Suzanne Fortin, is a fun romantic mystery that jumps back and forth from today to the WWII era.
Thanks to @Netgalley.co.uk for a copy in return for an honest review
This is the second book by Suzanne Fortin I have read, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first.
The dual time line works well.
In 1945, we meet Alice, who is sent to Felton Hall in shame, to stay and work for a while following her father's discovery that she is pregnant. Alone and away from home, Alice befriends Lily, who also lives at the Hall.
In 2022, as we follow Rhoda's project of preserving, removing and restoring a stained glass window from Felton Hall Chapel - the work of an Italian POW - Rhoda is keen to complete the job before the Hall and Chapel are destroyed. And as she works, so begins a journey back in time.
The discovery of a skeleton halts the process briefly, but since the police are uninterested, Rhoda is determined to uncover who the bones belong to and how they ended up there.
But someone is determined to stop her from uncovering the secrets of Felton Hall Chapel.
As the story unfolds, the link between past and present is carefully revealed.
Although the story has some surprises which keep the reader's interest peaked, the "who" is easy to recognise, but it's the "why" that keeps the reader intrigued.
Thank you NetGalley, Head of Zeus and Suzanne Fortin for letting me read “Beyond a Broken Sky” in exchange for an honest review.
The cover is beautiful. A woman dressed in a red dress, 1940’s style l assume, gazing out of a window. Sunset. Beautiful color scheme. A bit dark and menacing looking, but also hope?
The author is new to me. I admit, I haven’t read a historical book in a long time. Further, I avoid books covering WWII. A petty reason as in German schools, it feels to me, we hear and learn about nothing else in history lessons. Combined with a kind of guilt, even if I had never anything to do with it, I came to avoid the topic. So why did I request the book? It sounded too good! It had history and a touch of contemporary mystery.
“In a time of war, can love save them?”
This novel gives us a dual timeline. We get the POVs of Rhoda, a stained glass expert and Nate, son of a farmer who does not want to sell his land.
Then we get 18-years-old Alice in 1945, pregnant by American soldier Brett. Alice gets send away to Telton Hall to work. She’s shamed. Pregnant and unmarried. While this is “no big deal” (I am using these words very lightly) these days, it was not in Alice’s time period. I really felt for her.
Rhoda, who has not given up hope on finding her missing twin, is called to Telton Hall to preserve a stained glass window, made by an Italian POW. That is when they stumble upon a skeleton. Who is buried in the chapel and who does not want them to find out?
We get a regular change between present and past plus additional letters from POW Luca. The beginning of the book felt super confusing at first and a tad boring. But it picked up nicely and I could not put it down. I really like the character development and insights. It’s not easy to fuse so many characters together in a way that they blend so well together, over such a long period of time. The characters are written thoughtfully and with love. You feel for them, you’re angry and afraid with and for them. Fortin did a marvellous job with this novel!
This is the second book I have read by Suzanne Fortin. She knows how to tell a story that will captivate you. As before, the story takes place in two time periods, 1945 and 2022. A body is discovered in 2022 and Rhoda, the stained glass window restorer, endeavors to find who it is, but there are others in the small town who don’t want the past “dug up.” I hesitate to call it a thriller, but it does have suspense and good character development.
Rhoda Sullivan works for a museum at Singlewood, and she’s an expert at resorting old glass windows. She’s sent to Telton Hall, to check a stain glass window, designed by an Italian prisoner of war and it’s inside the family chapel. Jack Hartwell has lived at Telton Hall his whole life, he’s not happy about what’s happening to his families land and he’s blocking the road. Nate Hartwell arrives, he talks some sense into his father and he lets Rhoda inspect the chapel. What should be a quick look-over, turns into Nate having to call the police and a body is found buried underneath the pavers in the chapel. Rhoda’s brother Dean went missing ten years ago, she knows what it’s like to lose someone and not know what happened to them, and she’s determined to solve the mystery of the Telton Hall skeleton.
The narrative has a dual timeline, the story takes place mainly at Telton Hall in 2022 and during the Second World War in 1945.
Alice Renshaw in only eighteen, she fell head over heals for an American soldier and he’s left her in the family way! Mrs. Louise Hartwell is a kind lady, she owns a house in remote Somerset, she takes in girls in Alice’s predicament and arranges for their babies to be adopted. At first Alice feels overwhelmed, everyone at Telton Hall is nice, and she shares a room with a land girl. Alice meets Paola, an Italian prisoner of war, he’s working at the farm and they become friends. Louise’s step-son Billy Stoker was injured in the war, he’s staying at Telton Hall, he hates the prisoners of war, he treats them badly and Alice finds him creepy.
I received a copy of Beyond a Broken Sky from NetGalley and A Head of Zeus/Aria in exchange for an honest review. Suzanne Fortin has done it again, she’s written another engrossing dual timeline historical mystery and with a cast of compelling characters. I don’t want to give too much away, if you like stories about old houses and hidden wartime secrets, I highly recommend reading this book and five stars from me.
For a few hours today Suzanne Fortin had me wearing three different pairs of shoes!
I loved the opportunity to sneak back to 1945 to see life from a pregnant 18-year old’s point of view as well as from an Italian POW’s viewpoint and then walk in the shoes of a girl whose twin brother has been missing for years. Well written historical fiction such as Fortin’s allows my empathy to grow significantly. In a world so divided by fear and hatred, I see this as a welcome opportunity.
I had no idea that in an effort to alleviate labour shortages, particularly in agriculture, Italian POWs captured in the Middle East were brought to Britain. In fact, many of them volunteered to work as co-operators, were sent to camps in the English countryside and given freedom to mix with the locals, even living with farm families. Fortin introduces us to two such men and we get a sense of what it was like for them.
I also learned what it was like for a young, jilted bride to be left ashamed and pregnant with few options. The emotions Fortin channels through this desperate girl left me feeling wrung out, yet thankful to be raised at a time when girls have many more options available to them.
Finally, I experienced the anxiety and fear of a twin who was uncertain about the whereabouts of her brother for the past 15+ years. I felt what it was like to create a missing persons page on Facebook and check daily for years to see if someone had offered clues or had sightings. The fear of the unknown played a major part in this character’s life.
In addition to a fantastic shoe saleswoman, Fortin is a splendid gatekeeper; she opens doors to the past that have previously been closed or rarely opened and brings to life a piece of history that time had forgotten.
You’ll want to pick up this 5-star historical fiction not only for the knowledge Fortin can impart, but also because it's a layered read. You’ll be immersed in the final days of WW2, have a front row seat to a murder (or two) the locals are trying to bury, a mystery that’s difficult to unravel, understand what it was like for returning soldiers who had no emotional support, and witness a blossoming romance. It all flows effortlessly together and is written with such passion - don’t miss out on one of this summer’s best historical fiction novels!
I was gifted this advance copy by Suzanne Fortin, Head of Zeus, Aria, and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
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