Book Review: Salamanca Cottage by Mary Fitzgerald

Salamanca Cottage is set during World War II, in the fictional village of Lower Marchland. Aurelia Smith, a recently widowed nurse, rents the cottage and goes to work at the village hospital. She finds the atmosphere of the cottage peaceful and comforting. The perfect place to help mend her broken heart. The villagers' cryptic comments about the cottage leave her puzzled until one night she sees a man standing to one side of her inglenook fireplace.

"The man was in uniform, not a modern uniform and the colours were hard to make out, for the whole form of the spectre had a sepia tint like an old photograph. He was tall, taller than her and had light hair and an amused clean shaven face. Looking carefully, Aurelia thought that his jacket might be green with rows of silver buttons down the front and a bright scarlet sash. Dark narrow trousers and riding boots finished off the ensemble, except for his sword, which hung from a leather belt partially covered by the sash. Hanging from the hilt of the sword, on a braided cord, was a little metal figurine. When the apparition turned to face her the figurine knocked against the sword hilt making a small clinking sound. "

This is Aurelia's first meeting with Major Henry Kennerton of the 95th Rifles, who fell at the Battle of Waterloo. Yes, Salamanca Cottage is a ghost story, but it is also a heart-warming romance.

Mary Fitzgerald does an excellent job of depicting life in a small village during World War II. Her characters are believable and ones I expected to populate an English village of that time. From the local inhabitants, linked through past generations, to the newcomers such as the German POWs and American servicemen, none were superfluous to the story. However, my favourite was the ghostly Major Kennerton, still suffering his own personal sorrow after 130 years. His sense of humour and 19th century speech makes for witty and entertaining dialogue with Aurelia.

Salamanca Cottage is a quick read. Mary Fitzgerald has an easy writing style that doesn't allow you to stop and catch your breath until the last page. This is a charming story dealing with grief and love in a war time context. The unexpected twist at the end left me smiling and that's a good way to end a novel.

Salamanca Cottage is a great introduction to an author I hadn't read before and I'm looking forward to reading more books by Mary Fitzgerald.

Currently, Salamanca Cottage is only available as an e-book.

2 comments:

  1. I've never heard of this author or book. I love the idea of historical fiction mixed in with a good ghost story, whether it's more of the creepy variety or heartwarming, nostalgic variety.

    I love this review. Giving enough to entice the reader yet not giving away the whole enchilada, I found this a winning combination. Thanks for bringing this to my attention! Sounds very intriguing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sarah! I'm pleased my review piqued your interest in this book and author.

      Delete