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Friday, June 15, 2018

The Death of Mrs. Westaway - Ruth Ware

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

First Paragraph(s):

The magpies are back.  It's strange to think how much I used to hate them, when I first came to the house.  I remember coming up the drive in the taxi from the station, seeing them lined up along the garden wall like that, preening their feathers. 
     Today there was one perched on the frost-rimed branch of yew right outside my window, and I remembered what my mother used to say when I was little and whispered 'Hello, Mr. Magpie' under my breath, to turn away the bad luck.
     I counted them as I dressed, shivering next to the window.  One on the yew tree.  A second on the weathervane of the folly.  A third on the wall of the kitchen garden.  Three for a girl.
     It seemed like an omen, and for a moment I shivered.  Wishing, wondering, waiting...
     But no, there were more on the frozen lawn.  Four, five...six...and one hopping across the flags of the terrace, pecking at the ice on the covers over the table and chairs.
     Seven.  Seven for a secret, never to be told.

My Thoughts:

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is Ruth Ware's fourth book and I've read all of them.  And liked all of them - some more than others.  Each are standalones and each different from those before.  This book is again - different - quite Gothic with secrets and an old creepy house - with a family that doesn't get along or see each other often at all.  Years, in fact.  There is a majorly horrible old housekeeper - ancient and bitter.  Shades of Rebecca and Mrs. Danvers.  There is a death and a will and that's what brings Harriet Westaway, known as Hal, into the story.

I think that's about all I'll say about the plot.  Harriet works as a Tarot card reader on the boardwalk in Brighton.  She owes money.  She's hasn't much.  What will meeting this family bring her?  Well, you'll have to read The Death of Mrs. Westaway to find out.  I was mostly pleased with story.  Hal got a little annoying at times, but she was young and inexperienced and way out of her depth in many ways.  Some of the plot devices were predicable, but I've read a lot of thrillers and Gothics.  There was definitely an ominous feel and the setting in Cornwall and awful weather contributed as well.  I was cold all the time I was reading.  Will I be reading the next book by Ruth Ware?  Oh yes.  Just try and keep me away.  Ha!   

Blurb:

Dear Miss Westaway,

Your grandmother, Hester Mary Westaway of Trepassen House, St Piran, passed away on 22nd November, at her home. I appreciate that this news may well come as a shock to you; please accept my sincere condolences on your loss.

In accordance with the wishes of your late grandmother, I am instructed to inform beneficiaries of the details of her funeral. As local accommodation is very limited, family members are invited to stay at Trepassen House where a wake will also be held.

Yours truly,

Robert Treswick
Treswick, Nantes and Dean, Penzance

When Harriet Westaway – better known as Hal – receives a letter from the blue informing her of a substantial inheritance, it seems like the answer to her prayers. The loan shark she borrowed from is becoming increasingly aggressive, and there is no way that her job as a seaside fortune-teller can clear her debts.

There is just one problem: Hester Westaway is not Hal’s grandmother. The letter has been sent to the wrong person.

But Hal is a cold reader, practised in mining her clients for secrets about their lives. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a strange woman’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.

With only one way out of her problems, Hal boards a train for Cornwall, and prepares for the con of her life. But something is very, very wrong at Trepassen House.  Hal is not the only person with a secret, and it seems that someone may be prepared to do almost anything to keep theirs hidden…

35 comments:

  1. Just those first sentences made me think of Rebecca! Ware caught the rhythm and syntax of the opening of that classic. I can't wait for this one. Thanks, Kay, for a most intriguing review!

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    1. Thanks, Jenclair! This one definitely channels du Maurier and has the whole Rebecca vibe.

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    1. You should, Kathy. She's got some good writing skills.

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  3. I have this one waiting for me. Maybe I need to pull it for a summer read. It looks ideal for this time of year.

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    1. You could or you could wait until October. LOL

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  4. This one is on my TBR, though it'll be a few weeks yet before I get to it, so I'm delighted to hear you thought it was good! It'll be my first introduction to Ruth Ware - all you fans eventually wore down my resistance... 😉

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    1. I've liked her books. As I said, some more than others. However, she keeps changing up the locations and way she tells the stories, which is not a bad thing at all.

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  5. I keep adding all of her books to my list but I don't think I've yet read one! I keep forgetting about them.

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    1. They would be quick reads for you, Ti. Pretty gripping stuff, but not earth shattering. Ha!

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  6. Yay! This makes me excited. I will be getting to this one very soon!

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    1. Oh good - hope you like it too. I enjoyed all the tarot card stuff.

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  7. I’ve been interested in this, even though I couldn’t get past page 15 of The Woman in Cabin whatever...I was terrified! Thanks for your review; shades of Rebecca can’t be all bad. ;)

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    1. I liked The Woman in Cabin Ten, but can see how it might be scary. See, I like being scared in my reading. Ha!

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  8. I loved In a Dark Dark Wood. Pretty creepy. Thanks for the reminder of this author.

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    1. You'd probably like this one, Gayle. Very Gothic.

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  9. I've really enjoyed her first two books but The Lying Game really disappointed me. I didn't love the MC in Cabin Ten but I enjoyed the atmosphere so I think this will be a winner for me. It doesn't sound like it has the same repetitiveness or a big deal over something relatively small that The Lying Game had. I can't remember if you do audio but Imogen Church is the narrator for all of Ware's books so far and she is amazing!

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    1. Imogen Church is one of my favorite narrators too! Yes, I bet this one is very good on audio.

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  10. I'm glad you enjoyed this latest book by Ruth Ware, Kay. Her books are a must-read to me and I can't wait to dive into this one.

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    1. I think it's a good one, Melody!

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  11. This particular Ware novel sounds more intriguing to me for some reason than the others I've read. And I liked those. :)

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    1. If you like the Gothic side of things, this is one that might suit very well.

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  12. I love that she captures the setting so well! That definitely amps up the creepiness and mystery.

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    1. Yes, I love Gothic books and this one definitely picks up on that theme.

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  13. This sounds so good! I have only read (listened to) one Ruth Ware novel and enjoyed it. This one especially sounds good to me. I think it's the Gothic vibe vibe.

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    1. Yes, the part about the old house and Gothic set-up attracted me as well.

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  14. I just received this from NG and look forward to reading it. She is a talented author and I enjoy her. Glad it was mostly good for you-- I skimmed through your review :)

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    1. I hope you like it too. It was a fun read for me. I liked the Tarot card explanations.

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  15. A book that made you feel the cold? I'm so reading this! haha... Actually I have read a couple of her books and have greatly enjoyed them so no doubt I want to read this one and I especially like the gothic vibe!

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    1. Yes, that's the whole theory behind my 'read cold books in summer' practice. Ha!

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  16. It is a fantastic idea to read "cold" books in the summer! I love Ruth Ware's books. I've just missed The Lying Game, which I see got mixed reviews, but I still want to read it. Looking forward to her next one!

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    1. The Lying Game was not as pleasing to me, but mostly for some small reasons. One of the characters talked about breastfeeding her baby literally on every other page. Somehow, after a time, that got annoying. Plus, that character lied to her husband a lot and some other stuff. Not vital to the story, but annoying to me.

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  17. Yes, I loved the creepy Gothic feel of this one! I agree about the plot being a bit predictable, but I still liked this one a lot. It's my favorite of hers. So far, anyway :)

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    1. Good to know about your experience with it, Susan. I still think that I liked the first of her books best, but this one rates right up there.

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  18. I missed this review. I have not read any of Westaway's books... I don't usually read new, popular authors. But I may have to try one. I am not sure if I like Gothic, but can't hurt to try. Maybe they will have one of the earlier ones at the September book sale.

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!