Published 19/3/20 Avon Books
I really enjoyed Lorna Cook’s last book ‘The Forgotten Village’ set between two different periods and ‘The Forbidden Promise’ is written in a similar way with the story set between 1940 and present day at Invermoray House in Scotland.
Constance has just fled her own 21st birthday party in the summer of 1940, she tries to collect her thoughts on the edge of the loch which is part of her family’s estate. In the serene surroundings, the sound of a spluttering aeroplane’s engine seems out of place.
Astounded, she watches a Spitfire appear low over the water and crash. She dives into the water to help the pilot and, once safe on the bank, he begs to be kept hidden while he recovers. Against her better judgement, she agrees to help him and guides him to an unused ghillie’s cottage. (Gillie or ghillie is a Gaelic term for a man or a boy who acts as an attendant on a fishing, fly fishing, hunting, or deer stalking expedition, primarily in the Highlands- I had to google it!🙈)
Much later that evening, she makes her way back to the family home, hoping that no-one has missed her and torn between what to do for the best.
Flash Forward to the present day and Kate has left her employment as a PR Manager in London, under a cloud. In order to find her a new job, her friend Jenny has applied for several on her behalf. She successfully interviews for a position at an estate called ‘Invermoray’ in the Scottish Highlands run by Liz and her son, James, who want to run it as a bed & breakfast.
When she arrives, she is dismayed to find the house in a state of disrepair, that there isn’t much of a business to promote and that James, Liz’s son, has no idea that she had been employed and is furious.
As she awkwardly waits for mother & son to discuss what happens next, she begins to take in her surroundings. There are many portraits around the room and on the table, next to the bookshelves, is a Bible. As she turns the pages, she can see a long line of family names written carefully in ink, which she presumes are the current family’s ancestors. As she looks down the page, the name Constance Mclay has been, very deliberately, scrubbed out…
Lorna Cook, then cleverly weaves the two periods of the house’s history together. The tone of Constance’s story is more formal than Kate’s and the author consistently keeps each era’s formality & characterisation true to the period throughout the chapters. It’s sublime!
The plot is brilliantly written, it is in no way predictable-I thought I had it sussed, but was completely wrong. It’s a wonderful story about love, loss, family & friendship. 5/5🤩