‘A faded photograph. An abandoned house. A wartime secret . . .‘
[ About The Moon Gate ]
1939: On the eve of war, young English heiress Grace Grey travels from London to the wilderness of Tasmania. Coaxed out of her shell by the attentions of her Irish neighbour, Daniel – Grace finally learns to live. But when Australian forces are called to the frontline, and Daniel with them, he leaves behind a devastating secret which will forever bind them together.
1975: Artist Willow Hawkins, and her new husband, Ben, can’t believe their luck when an anonymous benefactor leaves them a house on the remote Tasmanian coast. Confused and delighted, they set out to unmask Towerhurst’s previous owner – unwittingly altering the course of their lives.
2004: Libby Andrews has always been sheltered from the truth behind her father Ben’s death. When she travels to London and discovers a faded photograph, a long-buried memory is unlocked, and she begins to follow an investigation that Ben could never complete. But will she realise that some secrets are best left buried . . .?
[ My Review ]
The Moon Gate by Amanda Geard published with Headline June 8th and is described as ‘a mesmerising story of love, war, and a mystery that ensnares three generations, sweeping the reader from London to Tasmania and to Ireland. Perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley and Eve Chase.‘
I thoroughly enjoyed The Midnight House, Amanda Geard’s debut novel, a book that was ‘packed full with intrigue and sumptuous descriptions‘. As a fan of historical fiction I love to be swept away to another time and place and to be immersed in the lives of those who went before us. One of the many attractions of The Moon Gate is the fact that part of it is set in Tasmania, which is the birthplace of Amanda Geard. Now, living in Kerry, she combines her passion for nature, her homeland, and her adopted homeland, into this beautifully expressive mystery set across three timelines. I had never heard of a moon gate before, so I was intrigued to see where I would travel to once I stepped through the image on the cover. A moon gate, by the way, is of Chinese origin, a garden feature giving access onto a particular pathway, and is a circular design built out of brick.
‘The letter opens a hole in the earth, and through the darkness she tumbles’
In 1939, Grace Grey is packed off to Australia for her safety, with her chaperone, Rose Munro. Grace has grown up under the illusion that she is a person that is difficult to love and lacks confidence in her strength and ability. Rose is her elder by a couple of years and draws people to her like a moth to a light, leaving Grace feeling very inadequate and plain.
‘Rose was exactly the kind of young woman who inspired winks and lingering glances. She was physical perfection in every way’
Grace’s uncle Marcus is married and living on the Tasmanian coast in a big house in quite an isolated area but the silence suits Grace, as she slowly steps out from her shell. She befriends a young Irish boy, Daniel, who longs to return home to his family place in Kerry. But the war changes the colour of everything with Daniel enlisting and being called to fight.
In 1975, Willow and her husband Ben are shocked, yet also thrilled, to hear that they have been bequeathed a property on the Tasmanian coastline.
‘There, before them, was a magnificent Federation house, large but not ostentatious, in two shades of white, crisp alabaster on the lower half, peeling ivory above, as though someone had set down a paintbrush at the end of the work day, gone home for tea, and never returned. Eight windows peered from the elevation and a deep verandah promised sundowners and shelter from the west coast’s famous rain.
But the most remarkable, and most out of place, was the tower that reached from the house, rising above the red corrugated iron roof and soaring over the canopy. A sea view, indeed’
The inheritance was from an anonymous donor, much to their surprise, sending the adventurous pair off an extraordinary journey that would have consequences, sending ripples through the years.
In 2004 Libby leaves Australia for London, off on a search for the truth into her father’s death. Libby never knew him and has always hungered for information. Her mother clamps up whenever she asks questions and Libby, after suffering her own personal tragedy, decides to find out more. There is a trail of breadcrumbs waiting to be followed, one that could possibly take Libby on an extraordinary journey across generations but is she willing to take the risk?
Like The Midnight House, The Moon Gate is an entirely captivating read, with incredible attention to detail across continents and generations. A layered and complex tale, Amanda Geard has expertly woven multiple threads, with secrets and lies cleverly revealed in the most perfectly timed moments. I have to mention the references to Australian poetry, in particular the work of the bush poet, Banjo Paterson. Waltzing Matilda is known to many of us, but Amanda directs our attention to The Man from Snowy River, with beautiful references throughout the book. (Do check out this fabulous clip that Amanda shared on Twitter).
A wonderfully seductive mystery that will keep all readers engaged, The Moon Gate is an intricate & intriguing novel, a descriptive and absorbing piece of work.
“I hope you’ll feel you’re entering the temperate rainforest with Grace, opening the door to Towerhurst with Willow, walking through London’s layered history with Libby and stepping out to the heather-clad hills of County Kerry”
– Amanda Geard, Goodreads
[ Bio ]
Born in Australia, Amanda Geard has lived all over the world, from a houseboat in London to a Norwegian Island, before settling in County Kerry in Ireland. Her writing has appeared in The Irish Times, The Journal, writing.ie, Nordic Reach and Vertical Magazine. Her short story Not Yet Recycled won the New Irish Writing Award in October 2019. Her debut novel, The Midnight House was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick.
Twitter ~ @AmandaGeard