Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Riveting Dual Timeline Story with a Touch of the Paranormal

Sarah Painter
Lake Union Publishing
April 1, 2016

It is 1938 in Brighton and Grace Kemp is entering nurse's training at the Royal Sussex Hospital. It's clear that nursing is not her choice, but that of her family. Grace has been exiled by her family in disgrace. Eighty years later, Mina Morgan is recovering from a catastrophic automobile accident; one that left her in a coma for several days. Mina is on staff at the Royal Sussex and has been having an affair with her boss, Mark. She has few friends and is estranged from her family but at least Mark is supportive, or is he? Mina is suffering from a head injury that has left her with memory loss and she does not understand why she can't reach her twin brother, Geraint, the only member of her family she wants to speak to. Poor Grace Kemp doesn't even have a minimal support system except the one she builds for herself. Mina has seen portents in the form of "ghost birds", signaling bad things to come all her life. She has never seen the ghost of a young nurse in antiquated uniform before the accident, though. As the two stories told In the Light of What We See unfold and Mina's memories come back slowly, we can see the parallels between the two women's lives. Both Grace and Mina are under threat from those who should have their best interests at heart.

I applaud Sarah Painter's ability to portray a character as essentially unlikeable as Mina and make her sympathetic. Mina is closed up to emotion and doesn't seem to need human connections. Grace, on the other hand, is a character one cares about from the beginning. The various strands of the dual timeline are woven seamlessly into a riveting narrative of love, loss, and redemption for both women. I highly recommend In the Light of What We See, as well as Painter's earlier novels, The Secrets of Ghosts and The Language of Spells.

Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union for a digital copy in return for an honest review.

RATING- 4 Stars

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