Beyond a Broken Sky
An utterly compelling and gripping World War 2 historical fiction
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...
Perfect for fans of Ellie Midwood, Suzanne Kelman and Suzanne Goldring.
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
Readers love Beyond a Broken Sky!
'Compelling historical mystery... You'll be turning the pages as fast as you can and falling in love with (most of) the characters' Jera's Jamboree, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
'Huge fan of this author... An immensely enjoyable novel and highly recommended!' Pickled Thoughts and Pinot, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
'Wow, there was a lot going on in this book! A lot of effort has gone into making this story as powerful as it was' Goodreads Reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
'Wonderful book, completely addictive! A fun read and cleverly crafted. Highly recommend' NetGalley Reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
'Suspenseful with an underlying menacing ethos... I enjoyed the female protagonists and the plot twists' Jane Hunt Writer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
'Thoroughly enjoyed this dual timeline book... Another winner from this talented author. Highly recommend' NetGalley Reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
'Beautifully written dual timeline story... Absolutely loved this story. I was captured from the very beginning' NetGalley Reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
'Suzanne Fortin has done it again' Tweedvale Girl Book Reviews, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
'Soothing, escapist, and well worth reading... A moving story showcasing that love can conquer all... A very nice mystery' Goodreads Reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐
'Very well written book, great plot, moved along fast and kept me engaged... Could easily have read it in one sitting if other things didn't get in the way!' NetGalley Reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐
'Heartfelt and moving... Each experience and influence adds together to make something uniquely beautiful' Lotus Writing Therapy, ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 51 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.
Set in 1945 and 2022 Somerset, England, this beautiful dual timeline novel has what many rabid readers yearn for in a book...history, secrets, mystery and a bit of romance. Author Suzanne Fortin writes gorgeously and thoughtfully and I lost myself in emotive Beyond A Broken Sky.
Dual timelines are a particular favourite of mine if written well with believable links. Thankfully, this book has just that. In 1945, young Alice finds herself in a predicament at a POW camp located on a farm called Teton Hall. A few of the most trusted prisoners are allowed to stay on the farm. Alice encounters much kindness but also witnesses cruelty and deception. Her life is connected with that of stained glass expert Rhoda who in 2022 carefully examines and preserves stained glass found on Teton Farm. Not all locals are enthused about her expertise. When human remains are found, secret after secret is eventually exposed. Her project becomes even more meaningful when she meets Jack and Nate. Both stories are equally enjoyable though the 1945 timeline intrigued me more as the era is one of my favourites to read about.
My favourite aspects of this book are the timelines and characters who are not all likeable but are well written. The mystery elements are also fascinating. Though not suspenseful, this book is soothing, escapist and well worth reading.
M y sincere thank you to Head of Zeus Aria and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this wonderful book.
A stained glass window ties the two timelines of the current day - where we meet Rhoda, a stained glass expert, Nate and a skeleton at Telton Hall and 1945 -where we meet POW Luca and the 18-year-old, pregnant and unmarried Alice, together.
I love a dual timeline story and I adore historical fiction, particularly those set in WWII and this could quite possibly be this years best historical fiction novel for me!
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this beautiful book..
This is a duel timeline story. In present day we meet Rhoda who is a stained glass expert. The museum she works for has sent her to examine the windows of a wartime chapel which is being moved to the museum as the property it sits on is part of a compulsory purchase order.
She is met with resentment by the owner, an old man called Jack. Eventually he allows her to look at the chapel and his son Nate turns up to ease things along for his father.
Everything is interrupted when a skeleton of a man is found. No one in the village when questioned knows of anyone who went missing during the war. The police class it as too old to warrant any further invention so case closed.
This doesn't sit well with Rhoda. She was brought up in care, separated from her twin brother who then disappeared when he was 18. Rhoda feels that someone, somewhere must have missed the person who was buried in the chapel. Will it help her own mental health to find out who he was ? Will it help her come to terms with the fact that after all these years she might never find her brother?
This is such a good read. A real mystery that we as readers have some insight into when we are taken back to life in the house and farm in 1945 when Jack was a young boy of ten. Italian prisoners of war helped run the farm and girls who were giving up their baby for adoption were helped by the owner.
I liked Rhoda, she had been so hurt by her brother's disappearance that she had built a wall around her, refusing to be hurt by anyone again. I enjoyed the part of the story about the stained glass windows and how they were made and handled.
With all the other characters, villagers and of course the occasional bad guys this book would make a great film. I just know the scenes that were played out in my head while reading this would look great on the big screen.
I read so many good books and never understand why they are never taken up for films or even tv dramas. Suzanne Fortin's books just keep getting better.
Rhoda has the job of removing the windows in an old chapel that is going to be moved. Jack the owner isn’t too happy with the whole thing and his forced move. They find a body buried close to the chapel and Rhoda is determined to find out who it is.
The story is told in dual timelines. Both are interesting but also sad at times. This is my second book by this author and it’s just as good as the first.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy
Well written story with an absorbing storyline that was spread over a dual timeline. Another great book by this author that had me reading well into the night.
The discovery of skeletal remains under the chapel at Telton Hall binds this dual time line novel featuring Rhoda in the present day and Alice in 1945, the waning days of WWII. Both women have compelling stories- Rhoda's troubled childhood and her missing brother and Alice's single motherhood. The connection will not be immediately obvious but Fortin does pull the threads together. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A good read.
Dual timelines of 1945 and 2022. This is a very interesting novel and a change from my normal type of reading but it was very enjoyable and I found it hard to put down. Giving this 4 stars. I don't think I have ever read anything by this author but I will be looking for more in the future.
Thanks to Netgalley and publisher for this ARC
Thank you to Head of Zeus, Aria Publishing and Net Galley for the chance to read and review this book. The opinions expressed are my own.
This is the first book I have read by author Suzanne Fortin, and it was just amazing! It is a timeslip story based in the present time and in 1945. In the present time, Rhoda Sullivan (a stained-glass expert) is employed to restore an old window at Telton Hall. While exploring, Rhoda and the owner's son, Nate Hartwell discover the remains of a dead body. Rhoda cannot let this mystery rest, so she goes on a quest to find out who it is and how they came to be buried. In 1945 Alice Renshaw is pregnant and sent to Telton Hall to have her baby and give it up for adoption. The author does an excellent job of connecting the two stories! I liked the setting and all of the characters. The mystery kept me guessing until the end-great ending! I highly recommend this book! You will love it!
For fans of Kate Morton, etc. A young stained glass expert is in charge of a removing a stained glass window in a chapel that was made by an Italian POW during the war. While working in the chapel, the remains of a skeleton are found. Tracing the history of the stain glass window into the present reveals hidden family secrets. I enjoyed this book, however the main character's search for her missing brother was left unfinished I thought. With that said ,I will recommend this book.
I thought this was a very well-written book, great plot, moved along fast and kept me engaged. I could easily have read it in one sitting if other things didn’t get in the way!
Told in dual timelines, one present day 2022 ( with no mention of the pandemic, thank you!); the other timeline was 1944-1945, at the end of WW2. Alice finds herself pregnant, plans to marry her American boyfriend, but he leaves her at the altar. As was common in those days, girls in Alice’s position were sent elsewhere to have the baby and put it up for adoption.
The place were Alice was sent also housed two POW’s , nice Italian boys. One, Paolo, knows stained glass making and was asked to repair damage. This window is what ties the two timelines together, because in 2022, Rhoda is a museum employee tasked with removing the window for preservation.
I don’t do spoilers, so I can’t tell much. This book has mystery, emotional memories, family stories and maybe a touch of romance. Highly recommend it!
Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book, but my opinions are my own.
I throughly enjoyed this dual time-line book. It was set in present day and 1945. It had all the elements I enjoy in a book, mystery and intrigue. Another winner from this talented author. Highly recommend. My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
So this was a beautifuly written dual timeline story. I absolutely loved this story. I was captured from the very beginning right too the end.
This is my first book by Fortin and won't be my last. I highly recommend.
Thanks Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to give an honest review
All thoughts and opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone else.
would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this awe inspiring book
stained glass window in a chapel
compulsory order to by out the farm
bones found in chapel
what should be a normal routine job of restoring a stained glass window in a chapel for rhoda sullivan turns out to be a more when the skeletal remains are found
that they have been there since 1945 makes no difference to rhoda who wants to find out the identity and let the family know what has happened to their relative, but before long she starts getting threatening letters to back off
its an interesting read with two time lines going alongside of each other...1945 and 2022 and they melded together really well
will be keeping an eye out for more of this authors works as i like how smoothly and the characters were likeable an easy read
This was an unexpected read, and I could not put it down. Originally I thought this would be a standard historical fiction, with a dual timeline. Instead, this was more of a contemporary gothic, with the historical backstory that created the conflict and setting and the mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Alice is the protagonist of the historical portion. As an unwed mother as the result of a relationship with an American pilot based in England during WWII, she goes to Telton Hall to have her baby and have the baby placed for adoption. While there, she becomes close with an Italian POW, Paolo, that was working on the Telton Hall farm along with other Italian POWs.
I will pause here and note that this fact of WWII POWs being included in the story, was one that concerned me greatly as I began reading. I did not want to read any kind of Nazi redemption story. The POWs here are from Italy. There is no time spent on discussing the role the Italians in general, and these Italians specifically, played in WWII as part of the Axis forces. The two Italians here are portrayed as just two men who were dragged into war. One, Carlo, is only briefly drawn, mostly just a POW who dislikes and is victimized by an overbearing and hateful nephew of the owner of Telton Hall. We see Paolo more through letters he writes home, including details about the difficulties his family experiences in Italy, and his growing relationship with Alice. He wants to go home and back to his country, but as he grows closer with Alice, he just wants to be with her. That's the extent of his portrayal with regards to WWII. Historically, Italy surrendered in 1943, and Italian POWs were relabeled as co-conspirators in Britain. Note that the author continues to call the Italians "POWs" throughout the story. They were not sent home until well after VE Day. The historical story here takes place in 1945. I wish there was more explanation of these important facts in the book but the portrayal is consistent with info in this BBC article that I found, about how many POWs stayed or came back to the UK after the war and made their homes in Britain. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-52547324.
In the contemporary story, Rhoda is a glass specialist tasked with dismantling a stained glass window from the chapel at Telton Hall. Along with the owner's son, Nate, she discovers something unexpected. Together they try to unwind the mystery surrounding their discovery. As with any good gothic, there are unexpected threats, car issues, break ins, and a faulty bit of scaffolding. And of course, Rhoda and Nate are attracted to each other and have a growing romance throughout the course of the story.
We learn about the who-done-it and who-is-it through both the contemporary and historical stories. I thought they were woven together seamlessly. And while there some things that weren't a surprise, others were. Of course it's all taking place at an English manor house, with a creepy chapel and dark rooms. That's the mark of a good gothic.
Romance as a genre is defined as a central romance and a happy ever after/happy for now ending. Beyond a Broken Sky a light romance. The romance is not the central plot as one would find in a contemporary romance, but it is inextricably wound up in the gothic mystery. The mystery portion would not work as well without the romance, so I don't think one could take it out and have the same book. That is one of the hallmarks of a gothic romance in the Victoria Holt vein - budding romance happens while a mystery surrounds the couple or at least surrounds the female protagonist. Those are still a romance, even if they don't fit in as neatly with our modern definition of a central romance. The HEA/HFN still remains.
I really enjoyed this. For historical fiction fans, they might find less history than some others, but the setting is WWII and facts from the era, create the historical portion of the story, and set us up perfectly for the dual timeline contemporary portion. The gothic portion is textbook and well done. Anyone concerned about the presence of POWs and how they are portrayed, should read the included BBC article. I can see how the author chose to include and portray Paolo and Carlo. That may still be difficult for some readers, which is why I include it as a content warning.
2022. Stained-glass expert Rhoda Sullivan is called to Telton Hall to examine a window designed by an Italian Prisoner of War during WWII. It should be a quick job but when she and the owners 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 her eighteenth birthday.
1945. Alice Renshaw is in trouble. Sent away to hide her shame, she is taken in by Louise Hartwell who had a farm in Somerset worked by Prisoners of War. As her belly grows, Alice finds solace in new friendships, but not everyone at Telton Hall is happy about it.
I like a story with a dual timeline and this one doesn't disappoint. Both parts of the story were well written with a hint of danger. It can also be sad in parts. There is some sexual harassment and misogyny. This is another one of these stories where I think your better off going in blind. It's also a romantic story. I like the authors style in writing this book. Fans of historical fiction will love it.
I would like to thank #NetGalley #HeadofZeus and the author #SuzanneFortin for my ARC of #BeyondABrokenSky in exchange for an honest review.
This is a dual-timeline gothic mystery that takes place at Telton Hall in Somerset, England. In the contemporary storyline, Rhoda Sullivan is a stained glass restorer who works for a museum. Telton Hall is under a compulsory purchase order and the owner, Jack, is none too happy about it and not exactly welcoming when Rhoda shows up to evaluate and remove stained glass in a chapel on the property. Jack’s son, Nate, intervenes to smooth things over, and is there for Rhoda as the story progresses, particularly when the family dog falls through a hole and in removing him, skeletal remains are found! Turns out these remains date back to the end of WWII. The police aren’t particularly concerned about 75-year-old remains, but Rhoda can’t be a blasé about it because her twin went missing right before their 18th birthday and she knows how the family of a missing person can suffer. She and Nate investigate but despite the passage of time, someone does not want them unearthing secrets and threats are made.
In the 1945 timeline, Alice is a pregnant, jilted bride-to-be who is sent to Telton Hall to have her baby. On the farm she befriends an Italian POW, Paolo, who is repairing a stained glass window in the chapel. As events in 1945 are revealed, I had numerous guesses about the mystery, but I was wrong. In addition the the mystery, I really enjoyed learning about how Italian POW’s were sent off to England to work on farms, a historical practice that was new to me.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an early review copy.
A dual-timeline story, set in the present and the last days of the Second World War.
Rhoda is an expert in stained glass, she is invited to Telton Hall to look at a window, which was created during WW2, by an Italian prisoner. The job shouldn’t have taken too long, that is until she and Nate, who is the owners son, find a body. Now, Rhoda can’t leave things as they are, knowing only to well what it’s like when someone goes missing. As they delve into the mystery of the body, they get warnings, it seems someone doesn’t want the mystery solved.
Back in 1945 pregnant and on her own Alice is sent to Somerset, where she meets Louise at a farm, which prisoners of war work at. Over the course of her being there, she makes new friends, but some at Telton Hall don’t like this. Soon, the war ends, but it seems it’s not finished at home...
I highly recommend this book.
What a fab book!
This is the third book I’ve read by this author and I’ve loved them all. As with the others, this had a great dual timeline which jumped seamlessly and kept me hooked. The characters were really likeable and I was invested in their stories. My favourite character was Alice as I really felt for her and her storyline. I loved the historic setting of WW2 and the prisoner of war elements as I haven’t read much of this in historical fiction before.
The mystery element of solving the murder and uncovering secrets of the past kept me guessing throughout. It had some tense moments which worked perfectly and I loved the setting. I highly recommend this author and her books!
Thank you to Netgalley and Aria books for this E-arc in exchange for an honest review.
Beyond a Broken Sky by Suzanne Fortin was the second book I have had the pleasure of reading by this talented and accomplished author. I had previously read All That We Have Lost and enjoyed it very much so I was excited to read her new book. Beyond a Broken Sky was both gripping and engrossing. This well plotted novel drew me in immediately. I hated to have to put this book down. The characters were rich and well developed. I appreciated the dual time that alternated between 2022 and 1945 that Suzanne Fortin chose for the backdrop of this well researched novel. It was fast paced and helped me learn about some new things that occurred during World War II that I did not possess a lot of prior knowledge of.
In 2022, an English farm, Telton Hall, located in Somerset, England, that had been in the Hartwell family for generations, was about to be sold. There was a compulsory purchase order and developers were planning to build new housing on the property. Jack Hartwell was not pleased with this prospect and was still trying to fight it. Telton Hall was the only home Jack had ever known. Jack’s son Nate had grown up there as well. Rhoda Sullivan, a stained glass expert from Singlewood Museum in West Sussex had just arrived to assess the stained glass window in the chapel that was located on the property of Telton Hall. After some coaxing from Rhoda and Jack’s son, Nate, Rhoda, Nate, Jack and Jack’s dog, Tink, trudged up to the chapel to view the stained glass windows. The entire chapel was scheduled to be disassembled and moved to the grounds of the Singlewood Museum but first Rhoda had to remove the windows so she could repair them. Rhoda learned that one of the prisoners of war that lived on the farm sometime between 1945 and 1947 had made the windows. Suddenly, Tink, Jack’s little dog, started yelping and scratching at the floor at the side of the chapel. Tink had discovered a gap in the stones and scampered down into the hole. After Nate and Rhoda got Tink out, Rhoda discovered that there was a skeleton down there. Who could it be? Was it one of the Prisoners of War? Rhoda’s twin brother had gone missing just before their eighteenth birthdays. She had spent the last ten years searching for him. Rhoda was determined to find out whose remains the skeleton was so that that family could have some closure. Shortly after discovering the skeleton and the start of their quest to look for answers, Rhoda and Nate started to receive serious threats. Someone really wanted them to drop their investigation about the skeleton they discovered but Rhoda and Nate became even more determined to get to the bottom of it as a result. Who could want them to stop and why? What was someone afraid of?
In 1945, Alice Renhaw was eighteen years old and was smitten with an American soldier that was stationed by her home. When Alice found herself in a family way, she shared her news with her American soldier. Unfortunately, his reaction was not what Alice had anticipated. He finally agreed to marry Alice but on the day of their wedding he never showed up. Alice was sent to Telton Farm in Somerset. The farm was run by Louise Hartwell. Miss Hartwell had a generous heart and often helped young women who unexpectedly found themselves in a family way have their babies and found suitable families to adopt these babies. Louise Hartwell also agreed to have Italian and German POW’s work on her farm. Some of the more trusted POW’s even boarded at the farm. Over the months that Alice lived on the farm she forged meaningful friendships with Lily, the house girl, and with two of the POW’s, Paolo and Carlo. Alice and Paolo developed a close and caring friendship that blossomed into something more over time. She came to care deeply about ten year old Jack and twelve year old Aggie. Alice was constantly tormented by her desire to keep her unborn child. She was not sure she could go through with the adoption process. Billy, Louise Hartwell’s step son, tormented Alice every chance he had. He was a bully and she could not tolerate the sight of him or his cruel acts. What would happen to Alice’s baby? Would she be persuaded to give it up for adoption? Would Alice’s and Paola’s feelings for each other develop into something more than friendship? Would they all be able to avoid Billy’s tirades and cruelty?
The chapters were alternately told from the points of view of Rhoda, Nate and Alice. Paolo’s letters home supplied enough information to learn about his character and family. In Suzanne Fortin’s acknowledgments, she wrote that Beyond a Broken Sky was based on the life of Anton Gunther, a German prisoner of war that was held at a camp in Yeoville. His story and connection with the church located in the Somerset village of East Chinnock inspired her to write this novel. Her research was impeccable and I learned a lot about the young women back then that were forced to leave their families, live in a strange environment, and put their babies up for adoption . I also learned about the lives of the prisoners of war and how they were regarded and treated. I really enjoyed Beyond a Broken Sky and highly recommend it.
Thank you to Aria Books for allowing me to read the ARC of Beyond a Broken Sky through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Beyond a Broken Sky is set to be published on July 21, 2022.
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