Title: Season of Storms
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Published: 2001, Jove
Category: General Fiction
I read Kearsley's The Shadowy Horses recently and loved it so that I jumped right on my library's website to see what they had by Kearsley. Season of the Storms is the only one they currently have in circulation. Bad Brooklyn Public Library! They don't disappoint me very often. Well, at least they had this one.
Celia Sands is a young actress living in London, struggling to get her career off the ground. She was named after a very famous actress who lived in the early 1900s. This first Celia had a tragic love affair with a well-known playwright named Galeazzo D'Ascanio. D'Ascanio wrote his most famous play for Celia, but on the night the show was to open Celia disappeared. Now, Galeazzo's grandson has decided to put on a production of the same play and he wants Celia Sands (the second, our heroine) to play the leading role. It's the chance of a lifetime, but Celia is hesitant to take the part because she thinks that she's only wanted because her name will be a good publicity trick. Her friend, Rupert, who has always been as good as a father to her and will be directing the play, talks her into accepting the role. So she and Rupert head out for northern Italy to the palatial home of Galeazzo D'Ascanio. But the bad luck attached to the play seems to be still present and things quickly become dangerous.
I really enjoy Kearsley's writing style--sort of elegant and moody, and very full of description and setting. A lovely Italian setting too. The ghostly elements serve to give you just a little delicious shiver and add to the mood. And Celia is a great character--very young and maybe inexperienced, but sensible and practical. Her relationship with her two father-figures was fantastic.
The plot was good. Suspenseful and cleverly entwined with the story of the first Celia and what happened to her. The book takes place over the few weeks that they are putting the play together and I found that process very interesting.
Only two complaints: one, that the romance didn't quite get off the ground for me. I liked Alex (the playwright's grandson) but we saw very little of him. I would have liked to see more interaction between him and Celia. And the second complaint is a major spoiler, so I'll white it out: WHY oh WHY did Rupert have to die?! I always hate it when characters I like die, but I can usually handle it when their death is necessary for the plot or the development of another character. But Rupert's death did not seem to serve any purpose other than to make me SAD! SO SAD!! I loved Roo and I don't care if he had that disease, he still shouldn't have died.
I got two Kearsley books for Christmas--Mariana and The Splendour Falls. Mariana has actually been held captive by my mother since Christmas. She's read it twice and says it's fantastic, so I think I'll read it next.