5.0 out of 5 stars Completely Unforgettable!!!
By M. Lignor on May 6, 2013
This novel begins in an unforgettable, heart-wrenching way, becoming a truly `memorable read.' Here, a little girl is about to have her life thrown into upheaval as WWII comes knocking on her door. Many Jewish children were sent from France to Spain over the Pyrenees Mountains to hide from the Nazis, and people like Lydia who worked to save these children from a fate worse than death, were heroes.
Jumping to present day, Jack Blake and his daughter, Nara, are on their way to see Lydia's daughter, Rebecca, who wants to give them a few of her mother's possessions. These `memories' have been hidden in Wales for about seventy years and are about to set Nara's life on a new path. The story she was told was that her great-grandparents had been killed in the London Blitz, but when Nara discovers Lydia's diaries, a new story comes to light.
On a parallel front, a French brother and sister whose family lost their prestige during the war blames Nara's family, especially for their lost wealth, which includes a painting worth millions. As each family comes together to learn the truth about their ancestors, a life is almost lost and one family ends up paying a high price.
This is truly an outstanding story that jumps between Nara's present-day issues and Lydia's diaries that talk about the war and her work with the French Resistance. Add to that the true pictures and emotional turmoil of life in London and Wales during the `40s when the war was at its worst, and the reader gets a true picture of what people gave up in order to help their fellow men.
This will be an `eye opener' for many, and cause most readers to feel privileged that they've had the opportunity to read a book that shows the real atrocities that happened to unsuspecting families who were just trying to get along. Unlike other WWII stories, this new `angle' is truly unforgettable and deserves only the highest recommendation.
5.0 out of 5 stars The World we Inherited from World War II
By David B Coles on November 25, 2012
I was born within a few months of the earliest part of this story and my first 10 years covered the war years and their aftermath. Of course, I never appreciated how grave the situation had been until well into my teens. The realization that the people of one country would set out to kill those of another country was quite a shock and here we are today with absolutely nothing changed in this respect except that now we can kill so many more so much more efficiently.
Kathleen Heady's research and insight into those years is extraordinary - from the scarcity of food and clothing and other resources to the difficulties of communication and travel, she brings it all back to me. Even our waste of women's talents and the disparagement of their abilities is recalled.
Lydia's story gives an accurate historic picture of the times and more than one exciting story set in those times - though with poignant endings - and one story in the present which holds the other threads together. We meet a wide variety of characters including two surprisingly resourceful academics and a thoroughly nasty inbred aristocrat - again, sadly, a type still with us today.
A very enjoyable book and a sometimes sad reflection on human nature. It was nice, too, to visit again with some of the characters from The Gate House. Thank you, Kathleen.
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-researched, captivating book
By Robin Lamont on November 11, 2012
Lydia's Story is a captivating novel that paints a living, breathing picture of life in London during the blitz of 1941. At its center is Lydia Roberts, an unsung heroic figure who is balancing the roles of wife, mother, and woman striving for a sense of independence through her contribution to the war effort. She has kept ongoing diaries that her daughter has stowed away for two generations without ever knowing what is in them. And it is Lydia's great-granddaughter Nara Blake who uncovers the diaries and tries to unravel the mystery surrounding Lydia's death. She is pitted against an angry, disturbed young man who is trying to find treasures that he believes were wrongfully taken during the war and now belong to him. Whereas Nara seeks something far more important - the truth about her great-grandmother. The novel is well-researched, drawing a vivid landscape of the behind-the-scenes action during WWII from London to the French Resistance. And in Kathleen Heady's good hands, the transitions from the past to present are smooth, allowing the narrative to unfold naturally and pulling the reader deeper and deeper into the story. Well worth the read!
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A simple box of mementos, hidden in a farmhouse in Wales for nearly seventy years, is enough to set Nara Blake on a search for the truth about her great-grandparents, and to put her own life in danger. Even as she begins to read her great-grandmother's diaries, a French brother and sister whose family lost everything in World War II, blame Nara's family for their lost wealth, which includes a priceless Cezanne painting. As both families learn the truth of their ancestors' activities during the war, they are put on a collision course that can only end in the destruction of long-held beliefs, and ultimately one must pay the price for the losses of the past.
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking of life in ythe Carribean? Enjoy
By David B Coles on June 25, 2014
I’ve always liked the thought of a life on a Caribbean island. It suggests racial tolerance, harmonious lives, music and shear enjoyment. The reality is almost certainly different and, as Kathleen Heady suggests in Hotel St. Clare, there are less pleasant aspects of life which crop up in any community.
Nara Blake, dissatisfied with her life as a school teacher, aspires to something better. She takes a position as hostess in the restaurant of the top Hotel St. Clare and very soon impresses everyone with her professionalism and intelligence – not to speak of her fresh beauty and youth which attracts the ageing owner’s interest as well as that of the hotel’s chef.
Nara is the latest in a long line of such attractions and sidesteps the owner’s advances adroitly only to begin falling for the chef’s charms.
Now darker events crowd in. Illness, murder, threats and Nara finds herself up to her ears in jeopardy as those she thought of as allies show their true colours and her position at the hotel becomes a dangerous place to be.
There are friends though. The old man who knows everything about the island, his sometime lover and their son – he with the green eyes and strong arms…
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps you turning pages
By Amazon Customer on June 29, 2014
This book was refreshingly different, not only for the setting but in how the plot develops. This book centers around 22 year old Nara, a native of the islands who is trying to find her way in the world. She begins working at the Hotel St. Clare and quickly moves up the ladder due to her intelligence, business acumen, hard work . . . and, since I won't give any spoilers, let's just say because of a pretty shocking development. Heady does an excellent job keeping up this underlying sense of menace, particularly from a certain slimy character. I was holding my breath a few times and hoping Nara would be okay. Just when you think that things have begun to smooth over for her, there are new, astonishing developments. It will lull you into a nice easy, engaging pace and then suddenly drop you down a roller coaster ride with some of its twists and unexpected turns. Beautifully written, it is a quick, easy read that will keep you guessing. I loved Nara--she was spunky and smart and didn't take her youth or her beauty too seriously. She is a character who is easy to love and root for and I hope to see more of her in future books. This makes for a great summer read or a great winter read given how Heady puts you right in the tropics with the incredibly well-written setting. Don't miss it!
5.0 out of 5 stars The story is stong and the characters are a believable mixture of good and bad
By Sandra Cody on June 27, 2014
A young woman steps out of the sea, shaking the seaweed from her hair. Two boys gathering shells at first think she is a mermaid. Thus begins Hotel Saint Clare, setting the stage for a story that is never far from the natural elements of life on a Caribbean island. The young girl is Nara, who has arrived to work in the hotel on the big island. Nara grew up in two different worlds: the world of wealth and privilege of her father and the more earthy world of the island people; she is a strong character who respects both worlds, but is determined to find her own place in the life of the island. This is a story of intrigue, of mystery and danger. True to its Caribbean setting, there is a hint of voodoo, but Heady never lets the magical element or the island people slip into cliche.
The writing is crisp and clear. The descriptions give a feel of the lushness of the setting, but are written with a light touch that does not overpower the story. The story is strong and the characters are a believable mixture of good and bad.
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing mystery amid tropical island life
By Augustus M. Cileone on October 8, 2014
The narrative of this book flows so that you want to keep reading about these interesting and unique characters. The novel provides a fascinating insight into the mysteries of the people living on the island where this mystery takes place. I feel like I want to know more about how their lives will turn out in subsequent stories.
5.0 out of 5 stars Ms Heady does a wonderful job with character development and with visualization of the ...
By OldGoatHerder on October 1, 2014
Hotel Saint Clare is a very well written story by Kathleen Heady. Ms Heady does a wonderful job with character development and with visualization of the tropics. The book helps tie together The Gate House and Lydia's Story, also by Heady. I love the way she brings Nara to life. This is a kick off you shoes and relax kind of story.
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A Caribbean island paradise, a place filled with happy carefree people whose only concern is the pleasure of the tourists. NOT. Appearances are superficial. Lust, greed, envy, jealousy, murderâ€¦ all can be found within the Hotel Saint Clare and Nara Blake: young, beautiful and inexperienced, meets them all when she takes on the job of hostess at the hotel. Fortunately, not everyone falls into those categories, and help and support and the promise of romance help Nara into her new life.
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Young Brianna’s life changed the day her mother left to save herself from being burned as a witch. Brianna was left alone in the middle ages knowing just enough magic to have her called a witch, but not enough to try to save herself. Brianna knew she had to flee but to where? She had to follow her instincts and run and run hard. Ending up in a large city she took a job as a kitchen girl and was befriended by Sir Michael a knight in King James’s court. Brianna could not hide her magic and was accused of witchcraft and ordered to be burned at the stake. Sir Michael, helped her to escape. They just knew somehow they had to head toward Wales where the Kings men could not follow. Not knowing magic was guiding their way. Brianna was the granddaughter of a most powerful wizard and his witch wife. They helped to guide Brianna and Sir Michael from afar. The magicians had the power to visit forward and past in time. Brianna’s mother was banished to 700 years in the future to Dover castle during WW II so she could not cause havoc in her abandoned daughter’s life. Brianna learns magic along the way and the truth about her past. Always staying one step ahead of the Kings men who wish to burn her to death.