I am thrilled to be sharing my review of The Light Within Us by Charlotte Betts with you today.
My thanks to Frankie at Little Brown Book Group for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for sending me a paperback copy of the book in return for my honest review.
Before I share my thoughts with you, here is what The Light Within Us is about.
~ From the back of the book ~
1891. Spindrift House, Cornwall.
Talented painter Edith Fairchild is poised to begin a life of newlywed bliss and artistic creation in the inspiring setting of Spindrift House, freshly inherited by her charming husband, Benedict, and overlooking the stunning harbour of Port Isaac. But when her honeymoon turns sour, her dreams are all but dashed after a moment of madness and desire she finds herself pregnant with another man’s child.
Edith swears never to tell her secret and devotes herself to her art. Joined at Spindrift House by her friends – Clarissa, Dora and the secret father of her child, Pascal – together they turn the house into a budding artists’ community. But despite their dreams of an idyllic way of life creating beauty by the sea, it becomes clear that all is not perfect within their tight-knit community, and that the weight of their secrets could threaten to tear apart their paradise forever…
~ My thoughts ~
This is the first book by Charlotte Betts I have read and I am excited to have found a new author whose books I can explore.
The Light Within Us is the first book in The Spindrift Trilogy. Set at the turn of the century, it follows the marriage of Edith, a talented artist, and Benedict, an artist with little ambition and whose jealous of his wife’s talent. At the beginning of the story, the newlyweds go on honeymoon to the south of France and stay with their friend Pascal, from Slade School of Art, where they are joined by their fellow art student friends: Clarissa, Dora and Wilfred. Things do not quite go as Edith had planned and she finds out things about Benedict that rocks their marriage before it has really started. On returning from honeymoon, they move to Benedict’s late aunt’s house, Spindrift House, set on the cliffs outside of Port Issac, Cornwall. Edith believes that Cornwall will provide much inspiration for her work but she soon discovers she is pregnant with another man’s child (not a spoiler – it’s in the book blurb). Ashamed of what she’s done, she keeps the infidelity a secret and throws herself into her art.
Clarissa, Dora, Pascal soon arrive at Spindrift House and, with her friends help, Edith turns Spindrift into a working artist’s community. But it isn’t all the idyll it could be and is soon rocked by other events. This all sets the groundwork for this multi-generational historical saga set in 1891 England.
The Light Within Us has a cast of characters and, being the first book in the trilogy, it introduces us to them. I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop in the second book, given how The Light Within Us ends. Sometimes, when there are multiple characters and storylines, it can be hard to follow the story and stay engaged but Charlotte Betts made it easy to follow. You will either love or hate these characters and I loathed Benedict for his behaviour towards and treatment of Edith. I didn’t warm to Clarissa straight away but she has a secret backstory, which I am intrigued to find out more about. Pascal is kind and caring towards everyone but makes sure Edith, and Dora, are cared for. Dora brings some working class background to the mix and quickly establishes herself as the mother hen. We don’t learn much about Wilfred so hopefully, we will get to know him a bit more in the second book. Each character at Spindrift has their own talents and skills and they learn from one another. There are other characters who come to live at Spindrift but I won’t talk about those for fear of spoiling.
In The Light Within Us, Charlotte Betts explores creativity and art at the time, the power of art, as well as the position of women in Victorian England – how they are the responsibilities of their fathers until they are married and then they become the responsibilities of their husbands – and the power of female friendships.
The Light Within Us felt to me a bit of a slow burner but then I remembered it is the first in a trilogy so there is a lot of groundwork to cover: many characters to meet and events to be laid down for the story to continue. This is just the beginning and Charlotte Betts has done really well. It must be difficult to write a book that doesn’t have a firm ending and to leave enough of the story to continue over a further 2 books.
The Light Within Us is a poignant, compelling and extensively researched novel that left me wanting the next book in the series: THE FADING OF THE LIGHT. I cannot wait to find out what happens next to these characters.
~ Where to find The Light Within Us ~
The Light Within Us by Charlotte Betts was published in paperback, eBook and audio by Piatkus in the UK on July 2nd 2020. It can be bought/ordered from all good bookshops as well as from Hive (support an independent bookshop with every purchase). It is also on Goodreads.
~ About Charlotte Betts ~
Charlotte Betts began her working life as a fashion designer in London. A career followed in interior design, property management and lettings. Always a bookworm, Charlotte discovered her passion for writing after her three children and two step-children had grown up. The Apothecary’s Daughter was her debut novel and won the YouWriteOn Book of the Year in 2010, the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers in 2011 and the RoNA’s Historical Category award for 2013. The sequel, The Painter’s Apprentice was published in 2012 and shortlisted for the Festival of Romance’s Best Historical Read Award in 2012.
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