When her dear cousin Lily sets sail from the Irish shore where the two grew up as sisters, Eleanor is determined to follow suit in order for them to be together. As an unmarried woman of high birth, she manages her travels only by deceiving her family and withdrawing in secret to Canada. Upon arriving, she is distraught to find her cousin both widowed and, in desperate haste, remarried to a crude and cryptic stranger. Certain that something is amiss, she attempts to pry her cousin and newborn niece homeward, but Lily is unhappily resolved to her new lot in life and the girls’ former relationship seems all but severed. Nonetheless, Eleanor is determined to carry out her familial duty and protect her cousin, even from a distance, at all costs. Alone and in a new country, she attempts to establish a life for herself as she learns to stand on such unfamiliar ground.
Lucy E.M. Black has proved herself a novelist to be noted with the spellbinding narrative which unfolds throughout “Eleanor Courtown”. The epistolary style and impressive dialogue are captivating from the onset. Such skill allows you to slip seamlessly into the prose of the past, whether the backdrop be a richly furnished Irish manor, a humble Canadian homestead, or the convivial parlor of a pair of simple but winsome Innkeepers. The cast of characters are the most charming I’ve crossed in a long while, each with personality as well as a rich past. In addition to being an absorbing drama, the story acted as an interesting, and at times distressing, historical portrait. At its core, “Eleanor Courtown” is a story of love; it tells of its endless facets, both sacrificial and enduring, found in the deeds of strangers and of one’s own flesh and blood alike. There is a comfort to be had in reading this novel, particularly in the person of each character. I wrapped myself up in this book like a warm shawl and enjoyed every minute. It is in all aspects engaging and endearing from the first page to the very last.