Today, I am excited to be sharing my review of The Visitors by Caroline Scott with you all.
From the highly acclaimed author of The Photographer of the Lost, a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick, comes a tale of a young war widow and one life-changing, sun-drenched visit to Cornwall in the summer of 1923…
Esme Nicholls is to spend the summer in Cornwall. Her late husband Alec, who died fighting in the war, grew up in Penzance, and she’s hoping to learn more about the man she loved and lost.
While there, she will stay with Gilbert, in his rambling seaside house, where he lives with his former brothers in arms. Esme is fascinated by this community of eccentric artists and former soldiers, and as she gets to know the men and their stories, she begins to feel this summer might be exactly what she needs.
But everything is not as idyllic as it seems – a mysterious new arrival later in the summer will turn Esme’s world upside down, and make her question everything she thought she knew about her life, and the people in it.
Full of light, laughter and larger-than-life characters, The Visitors is a novel of one woman finally finding her voice and choosing her own path forwards.
*Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for my copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review*
Since reading both The Photographer of The Lost (REVIEW HERE), and When I Come Home Again (REVIEW HERE), Caroline Scott has become one of my favourite authors, so as soon as I heard about The Visitors, I knew I had to read it! Once again, the author has truly delivered an absolutely brilliant story.
Following the death of her husband Alec, Esme Nicholls moved out of their marital home, and began living with, and working for, Mrs Pickering. The story begins with Esme travelling to Cornwall, to stay with Mrs Pickering’s brother Gilbert and his friends for the summer. While Esme is there, she is hoping to feel a little closer to her late husband, who grew up in the local area, and maybe fill in the blanks, and find out some of his story from his time at war. From the very beginning, my heart immediately went out to Esme, who was struggling to cope with the loss of the love of her life. A reality for far too many women during and after the war.
The characters in this story are all equally as fascinating as each other, but in their own very unique ways. There are some huge personalities, that you wouldn’t necessarily think would work as friends. However, their stories also weave together in even more interesting ways. I was desperate to hear all of their stories, and I was particularly intrigued by Gilbert and the men of his regiment. Their living set up was very unusual, and they seemed to have an unbreakable bond, forged during the horrors of war. I imagine that the people you serve with become closer than family, and you will have a connection with those people forever, which is very clearly shown in this story.
Esme soon begins to build a connection with the men in the house, but especially with Rory. I loved watching their relationship blossom, in a very gentle and natural way. They seemed to really understand each other, and have a mutual trust towards one another. A clear indication of this is that Rory allows Esme to read his private recollections of his time at war, something that he didn’t allow anyone else to do. Throughout the story, we get the occasional chapter from his book, and these are often quite difficult to read. They show the reality of war, and the minds of the soldiers on the front line in a way that makes you understand even more clearly how horrific their experiences were. On more than one occasion these chapters brought me to tears.
While in Cornwall, Esme’s life and everything she thought she knew is flipped completely upside down, and we follow her story as she tries to figure out and come to terms with the shocking revelation. She was struggling enough, but after this, I honestly don’t know how she managed to push on. This new realisation creates so much more hurt and confusion, as well as making things extremely difficult for her, and watching the consequences unfold was a real wild ride. Coming together in an ending that perfectly wrapped up every detail of this story, and leaving no question unanswered.
I can not praise the way Caroline Scott writes highly enough. She has an incredible way of writing stories that really grab at your heartstrings, and makes you feel every little emotion as though it is from your own personal experience, and this book is no exception to that. I would read absolutely anything that she writes, and now, I just have to patiently wait for her to release her next book, which I can guarantee will be just as fantastic.
I give The Visitors a 5 star rating!
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