A Bittersweet Garden by Caren J Werlinger ~ reviewed for #RBRT #IrishFiction #GhostStory with a touch of #Romance #FridayReads

Author: Caren J Werlinger

Published: March 2019 by Corgyn Publishing

Category: Irish Fiction, Ghost Story, Paranormal, Romance, Book Review

Nora McNeill has always dreamed of exploring her Irish roots. When she finally gets the opportunity to spend a summer in the village where her grandparents grew up, the experience promises to live up to her very high expectations. Except for the ghost that is haunting her rented cottage and is soon invading her dreams.

Fulfilling what seemed like her lifelong dream, Nora McNeill has arrived in Ireland and is on her way to Cong, the location of her favourite film, The Quiet Man. Nora’s grandparents had been born there, were extras in the film’s village scenes, and Nora had been raised on stories of their home town.

Now she was here for the whole summer—breaking ties with her domineering ex girlfriend and leaving behind the routine of life as a university librarian. An old friend of her grandfather’s has a cottage for rent that will be Nora’s home while she’s in Ireland. 

Sióg Cottage is haunted, according to the locals, who give it a wide berth. Nora soon finds herself caught up in unresolved events from the past with intriguing flashbacks gradually revealing the sad history of the cottage’s previous inhabitants during the famine. The Irish setting lends itself perfectly to the evolving paranormal mystery that ties in to the present. It’s a mystery that draws Nora in almost before she realises what’s happening.

Immediately the scent triggered a memory, a dream she’d had—a woman, searching and searching for…she wasn’t sure what. Only the sadness and despair that she couldn’t find whatever it was…

Between them, Nora’s cousin Sheila and her husband Quinn, run a nursery and riding school with stables. Through them, Nora meets Brianna Devlin. Brianna’s life is just how she likes it. She has her dog, Shannon, an Irish Wolfhound, her work with the horses she loves and her friends. She doesn’t want or need a relationship, especially with someone who is only there for the summer.

Nora’s story doesn’t just take the form of travel, it’s also a journey of self discovery and learning to realise her worth, amid the beautifully realised Irish countryside. I love the descriptions of Cong (I love The Quiet Man too, regardless of how un-pc it is) and the vivid sense of place really comes alive. Stories that make me want to visit the area in which they’re set have a strong appeal. 

She decided to stray off the paved roads and try some of the wooded trails that, according to her calculations, should take her in the direction of the village. A deep hush lay over the woods. She rode through the cool, damp air, sunlight filtering through the leaves overhead. It wasn’t just that the trees in this forest were enormous; their branches stuck out at odd angles, as if they were the arms of giants, frozen and turned into trees by some ancient magic.

There’s a marked development in Nora’s character as the story progresses with changes mainly in her perception of herself, realising she can be her own person without being influenced by negativity or what other people want her to be. Both she and Brianna become aware of themselves in a more positive light. This is my first book by Caren Werlinger and I enjoyed it very much. I’m sure I’ll be reading more of her work.

I chose to read and review A Bittersweet Garden for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy kindly supplied by the author.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US 

About the Author

From the author’s website via Goodreads: Caren was raised in Ohio, the oldest of four children. Much of her childhood was spent reading every book she could get her hands on, and crafting her own stories. She was influenced by a diverse array of authors, including Rumer Godden, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Willa Cather, and the Brontë sisters. She has lived in Virginia for over twenty-five years where she practices physical therapy, teaches anatomy and lives with her partner and their canine fur-children. She began writing creatively again several years ago. Her first novel, Looking Through Windows, won a Debut Author award from the Golden Crown Literary Society in 2009. Since then, she has published more than a dozen novels, winning multiple Rainbow Awards and a 2014 GCLS Award for In This Small Spot. She recently branched into fantasy, publishing the Goldie and Rainbow winner, The Beast That Never Was, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, as well as the award-winning The Dragonmage Saga.

Author links ~ Website | Facebook  

5 thoughts on “A Bittersweet Garden by Caren J Werlinger ~ reviewed for #RBRT #IrishFiction #GhostStory with a touch of #Romance #FridayReads

  1. I didn’t realise The Quiet Man was a real film till you said you loved it. How interesting to have included the making of it as a reference point in the book! Sounds like a lovely read… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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