Monday, 6 June 2011

The Unseen

The Unseen by Katherine Webb

This is the author's second book. I loved her first book, The Legacy, and bought this one after Amazon sent one of those annoying emails telling me I might like it. (Actually they were right. Marketing does work.)

This is exactly the type of book I want to write myself. There are two linked stories unfolding - one in 2011 and one in 1911. In the present day, a well-preserved WW1 soldier's body has been uncovered in a Belgian peat bog. A sealed tin in his pocket contains a couple of intriguing letters. Journalist Leah tries to find out his identity and the story behind the letters, while also dealing with some demons from her own past. In 1911, Hester (the writer of the letters) is living in a sex-less marriage with her vicar husband. Her household contains Cat, a suffragette maidservant with secrets of her own, and a house-guest who is a leading expert on theosophy. He and the vicar are convinced there are fairies in the nearby water meadows.

The novel jumps back and forth between the two time periods, each chapter ending at a point where you just have to read on, no matter how late it's getting. The setting is an old rectory near Thatcham in Berkshire. I used to live in Reading and am fairly well acquainted with the location. It's always an added bonus when a novel's setting comes alive for you, as this one did.

For lovers of historical novels, this one's a corker. Thoroughly recommended. I'm looking forward to the author's next one.


  1. Sounds good. I used to live in Calcot, in between Thatcham and Reading, and I just started a novel set in Reading, what a coincidence.

  2. I used to live up the road from you in Tilehurst!