I thoroughly enjoy Ali McNamara’s writing so that when Clara Diaz invited me to be part of the launch celebrations for Ali’s latest novel Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay, I simply couldn’t resist and I’m delighted to share my review today.
Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay will be released tomorrow by Little Brown imprint Sphere and is available for purchase through these links.
Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay
Amelia is a single mother, doing her very best to look after her young son, Charlie – but money is tight and times are tough. When she first hears that she is the last descendent of the Chesterford family and that she has inherited a Real-Life Castle by the sea, Amelia can’t quite believe her ears. But it’s true!
She soon finds that owning a castle isn’t quite the ticket to sorting out her money problems that she’d first hoped: she can’t sell, because the terms of the ancient bequest state that any Chesterford who inherits the castle, must live there and work towards the upkeep and maintenance of the family home. So ever-practical Amelia decides to uproot her little family and move to this magnificent castle by the sea.
Living in a castle on the beautiful Northumberland coast is fun at first, but organising the day-to-day running is a lot more complicated than Amelia first imagined. Luckily she has help from the small band of eccentric and unconventional staff that are already employed there – and a mysterious unseen hand that often gives her a push in the right direction just when she needs it most. It’s only when she meets Tom, a furniture restorer who comes to the castle to help repair some antique furniture, that Amelia realises she might get the fairy-tale ending that she and Charlie truly deserve…
My Review of Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay
Abandoned by her husband, Amelia needs some good luck.
I always enjoy reading Ali McNamara and Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay was as entertaining as I was expecting and such a super story. I loved the plot. I expect a happy ever after ending for this genre but what Ali McNamara does with consummate skill is keep the reader guessing how that ending might come about with some fabulous surprises along the way.
This time, that little bit extra frisson of the supernatural that Ali Mcnamara does so well is more developed and all the better for it, because it enhances the concept of identity running through the story, with an exploration of primogeniture, feminism, sexuality and identity which I felt elevated this book beyond what might be expected for the genre but with a skilful lightness of touch. I felt enormously entertained, especially when the element of mystery is added into the second half of the perfectly entitled Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay.
I thought the Northumberland setting was hugely evocative. I was reminded of Bamburgh or Alnwick castles and could just picture the wide sweep of sky and beach through Ali McNamara’s gorgeous descriptions. I’d certainly like to visit Amelia’s castle.
But for all the impressive themes and wonderful setting, it is the people in Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay that really make the book. Amelia’s ability to organise, to rise above adversity and to support the local economy should make her almost too good to be true, but far from it. She is warm and vivid with just enough negativity and self-doubt in her personality to make her feel very real indeed. I was desperate for her to find happiness. I really would like to spend some time with Tom in a darkened room too, but it was Arthur whom I found appealed most. His taciturn yet loyal nature made him feel someone I’d really like to get to know. Indeed all the characters felt like real people to me – even those who are no longer alive!
Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay is charming uplit at its very best, written by an author, Ali McNamara who understands the genre perfectly. It’s humorous, fast paced, entertaining and a thumping good story. I enjoyed every moment of it.
About Ali McNamara
Ali McNamara attributes her over-active and very vivid imagination to one thing – being an only child. Time spent dreaming up adventures when she was young has left her with a head bursting with stories waiting to be told.
When stories she wrote for fun on Ronan Keating’s website became so popular they were sold as a fundraising project for his cancer awareness charity, Ali realised that not only was writing something she enjoyed doing, but something others enjoyed reading too.
There’s more with these other bloggers too: