From the acclaimed author of The Last Summer, a captivating and moving story of the unlikely relationship between a lady and her maid on the eve of World War I.
As I watched him—his long legs striding the narrow path through the heather, his golden hair catching the sun—I had a hideous feeling in the pit of my stomach. For it seemed as though he was already marching away from me.
In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences—and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer.
But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress—a secret that will bind them together forever...
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Lucy Rayner is an award-winning British actress who has worked on both sides of the Atlantic in a number of theater productions and films, many of which have screened at festivals around the world. She loves to tell stories and has narrated many wonderful audiobooks.
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Excerpted from "The Echo of Twilight"
Copyright © 2017 Judith Kinghorn.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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Reading Group Guide
Questions for Discussion
1. The relationship between Pearl and Ottoline is central to the novel and, at times, complex. Was this relationship convincingly developed, and who do you think was more loyal—Pearl or Ottoline?
2. Discuss the ways in which a failure to tell the truth could cause misunderstanding and altered Pearl’s path. Who do you think was the most honest person in the novel?
3. Ottoline’s perception of marriage and her attitude to fidelity is clouded. Can infidelity be excused in an arranged marriage or in one in which there is mental instability?
4. Women’s attitudes to their roles at home and at work changed during the First World War. How is this depicted in the novel, and why was being in domestic service “no longer something to be proud of”?
5. Discuss the novel’s depiction of early twentieth century morality, including attitudes concerning sex and pregnancy outside marriage. How did the men’s behavior contrast with the women’s?
6. Were you surprised by Hector Campbell’s attitude concering his wife’s unfaithfulness? Why do you think he tolerated her behavior?
7. Loneliness, mental illness, and depression are recurrent themes in the novel. Discuss how the author handled this, and which characters suffer and why.
8. Part three of the novel takes place after the end of the war. Discuss the ways in which its effects continued to be seen and felt by the characters.
9. Apart from Pearl, which character do you feel undergoes the most dramatic transformation in the novel?
10. Were you shocked by Ottoline’s and Hector’s deaths? Who do you think was driving the car, and do you believe it was an accident?
11. Was Kitty’s lie to Theodore Godley about the baby (Pearl) dying understandable and forgivable? How did you feel about this revelation, and did it alter your view of Kitty?
12. Is Ralph Stedman a convincing romantic hero, despite his absence for most of the story? What was it about him that Pearl fell in love with? Did you believe he survived the war?
13. Lila innocently and inadvertently reveals to Ralph that she is his daughter. How realistic is this exchange, and how do you foresee Ralph’s future relationship with Lila?
14. Which of Pearl’s relationships had the greatest influence on her—her relationship with Kitty, Ottoline, Lila, or Ralph?
15. At the end of the novel, Pearl hears Ottoline say, “There. Didn’t I tell you?” Why do you think Pearl hears Ottoline’s voice at that moment, and what does this question allude to?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I won this book from Goodreads Giveaways. This story was about a young woman who is in service as a Lady's Maid just before the beginning of WWI. This was a beautiful story of love, family and understanding the closeness but yet the separation of the classes during this time. Pearl became a Lady's maid for Lady Ottoline and they became friends in a sort. She was close to the youngest son, but this just on the cusp of WWI and all the young men were going to war. She stayed in service until after the war, the Lady and her husband lost both of their sons in the war. She fell in love with Lady Ottoline's cousin and has a beautiful daughter Lila. The Lady treats Pearl's daughter as family. The twist and turns on how at a time when she would have been put out of a job she was kept and cherished. And then when the Lord and Lady died she was remember and so was her daughter. I loved this story and look forward to reading more books from this author.
Pearl Gibson loves to travel, to move up, to make up names for herself and tales she tells strangers, lying to embellish and enchant mundane reality! She’s good at it or perhaps one should say she was good at it until she was caught in one of her brilliant fabrications. On the way to interview for a job as a lady’s maid, she gives her name as Ottoline, the name of her soon to be employer, to a fine looking man she meets at a railroad station. Just a stranger, right? Ha! In fact, the real Ottoline Campbell who hires Pearl is a unique woman who does exactly as she pleases during an era when women’s roles were quite circumscribed. Ottoline’s attitude to Pearl from the very beginning is more of a friend than employer, although when displeased she lets Pearl know her place. Very quickly, Pearl learns about the family secrets but it isn’t her place to comment. Pearl then meets a family relative and they immediately bond. Now Ottoline has a secret that binds her to Pearl even deeper, a truth that is unfortunately or fortunately, depending on one’s point of view, shunted to the side with the beginning of World War I in 1914. Ottoline’s sons and so many other sons in the area join the military fight out of patriotic duty. Some will die; some will return as scarred, traumatized wrecks! Pearl soon has a secret that she entrusts to Ottoline, who now evolves into Pearl’s protector and more than friend. Pearl’s tension from the war and its shocking effects builds up until one day she breaks and spews out what she perceives as the truth, an act that mandates she leave the Campbell home to become the independent woman she needs to be. Years later, she will return under totally unexpected circumstances. This story has been told many times before this novel was written. The essence of this story, however, is quite unique. What rules our lives – fate, destiny, choices, rebellion, conformity – what? Judith Kinghorn is a very skilled author who crafts a mesmerizing account of how the vicissitudes of life dramatically shift during wartime. Every character is dramatically changed forever and the reader is honored to have shared the dramatic lives within these pages. The Echo of Twilight is an amazing work of historical fiction that this reviewer highly recommends!
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings First let me say, I read a lot of historical fiction and it is probably my most read genre, so suffice it to say I can be a little critical of my reads in the genre, so let me say I loved this one. What an interesting way to experience the effects of war without too much real battling in the book. I loved reading through the eyes of a woman who has had to fight each step of the way for the things that she has and takes a job not knowing how much it would impact the rest of her life. Pearl Gibson is an orphan from the moment she was born, but due to the open heart of a great Aunt she is raised beyond what she could have imagined and her Aunt instilled in her a sense of drive to better her life from how it began. From the moment she entered Ottoline's home I was glued to my seat to read how this relationship would work and where it would go. I was surprised where it went and loved it!
An orphan all her life, Pearl was raised by her aunt and grandfather. Upon their deaths, she found work as a ladies maid with Lady Ottoline Campbell. They become fast friends and travel from England to Scotland on the eve of World War I. As Ottoline's sons and nephews join up, the two women are distraught. The two women become further linked by a dark secret that can destroy their lives. I enjoyed this wonderful family saga set in the early 1900's. The book is well paced with larger than life characters, an interesting plot which culminates in a most satisfying ending. Highly recommended.