Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
Themes: Family, Friends, Relationships, Art and Country Living
Author: Charlotte Betts
Rating: 5 Stars
Length: 400 Pages
Trigger Warnings: Abuse and Self-harm
Betts’ begins the start of her new trilogy with an epilogue-style chapter that shows us how an artist called Benedict comes to inherit Spindrift House, a beautiful place near Port Isaac with stunning views of the beach, from his aunt. Benedict, his wife Edith (also a talented painter), and their friends move to the house and begin to turn it into an artists’ community. But when Edith discovers something she wishes she hadn’t, she turns to one of her artist friends for comfort and ends up pregnant with his child. The book goes on to explore the lives of Edith, Benedict, Clarissa, Dora and Pascal, while they try to navigate through their secrets and new home.
“Fear spurs me on to find out who and what I am”
The best word to describe Edith is lovely. She is a kind, loving mother and she consistently tries to make Benedict (who could never, under any circumstance be called lovely) happy and content. As well as this, Edith is also an incredibly talented painter, and this causes a rift between her and her husband, who is lazier and much more mediocre (although no one would dare say this to him). Dora was also so unbelievably kind and modest. She found her joy with looking after her friends’ children, managing the house and illustrating children’s stories. Clarissa was probably my favourite character. Initially, she struggled to find her place in the house but eventually, she discovered her passion, and talent, for designing jewellery. I became so invested in these characters that I found myself crying throughout (both happy and sad tears!). That is I was invested in all characters except Benedict, whose narcissistic and nasty personality made him an immensely dislikeable character.
“Then that must be enough for us”
Despite navigating the viewpoints of several different characters, I never felt confused or overwhelmed. The chapters and points of view flowed perfectly and made for a lovely reading experience. Betts’ description of the house and surrounding Cornish countryside was also flawless. I live in the neighbouring county (Devon) right on the coast and can confirm that the views are as beautiful as they sound!
“Women aren’t less intelligent than men, unless we choose to live up to the accepted view that it’s unfeminine to think for ourselves”
As you would expect from a historical sage, The Light Within Us contains its fair share of drama and scandal, but this still felt realistic given the time period (late 1800s). I was so engrossed in the story that I ended up reading the book in two days, so finding out that it was only the first book in the trilogy made me very happy! I’m really excited to read the next two books and for me there’s no way I could give The Light Within Us less than a five-star rating.