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Ember Island: A Novel Paperback – April 15, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476743509
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476743509
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Two women, separated by more than a century, are connected by the secrets they carry with them to Ember Island. After her marriage to a deceitful opportunist is exposed as a sham, Tilly Kirkland accidently starts a fire that kills her unfaithful husband and his lover. Fleeing to a remote island off the coast of Australia, she assumes an alias and accepts a position as governess to Nell Holt, the precocious daughter of the local prison superintendent. Fast-forward more than 100 years and best-selling author Nina Jones, Nell’s great-granddaughter, takes refuge on Ember Island, nursing a broken heart and guarding an emotionally and professionally paralyzing secret. As Tilly and Nina are both drawn tentatively into new beginnings, their alternating stories are linked by their relationships with Nell. Romance, history, and a touch of windblown gothic mystery will appeal to a broad cross section of readers. --Margaret Flanagan

Review

"Freeman skillfully unites the stories of two women who live a century apart but both face the challenge of overcoming difficult pasts, and both under the lighthouse’s watchful presence. . . . Freeman’s moving tale gives her two heroines the unique chance to make a fresh start in life." (Publishers Weekly)

"The author’s description of the beautiful Australian coastline will linger with readers long after they finish the book." (Kirkus Reviews)

“Freeman weaves the two time periods together so seamlessly." (Booklist)

"What a perfect beach read. A sunken ship, buried treasure, a home on the beach by the lighthouse, sister relationships, adventure, and romance. Lighthouse Bay packs a lot into its two-pronged story." (atravelerslibrary.com)

"The novel's strength instead lies in Freeman's complex characters—capable of love and hate, shame and redemption. Both Beattie and Emma find themselves having to start over, and it is for these two women that readers cheer and sympathize." (Publishers Weekly)

"By the last satisfying scene, you may find yourself reluctantly parting with old friends who will live on once the cover has closed. Highly recommended." (Historical Novels Review)

"[Freeman] made her characters come to life, the scenery visible through her words, and the story was believable and made me want to read more." (Book Nook Club)

"The complexities of character and female relationships make this novel very rich and emotional." (Examiner.com)

"A gorgeous story of family and secrets and the redemptive power of love." (Kate Morton, author of The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden)

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Customer Reviews

This was a lovely story, very engaging characters, and the story line was intriguing.
kak
She is an annoying character and adds little to the overall narrative other than serving as a means to reveal portions of Nell's story from the 1890s.
Lisa H
This is my first Kimberley Freeman book and I could not stop reading it...read it in one day!
PATucker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Karen B on October 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Needing a great story to slip into and escape for a while, I was delighted to see that Kimberley Freeman's latest, Ember Island had downloaded on my Kindle. Loving Freeman's previous books, I couldn't wait to snuggle down with this one. Cup of tea: check; cushions to rest against: check; silence and no interruptions: check. Big sigh of contentment... open book... And....
Immediately, I was transported to Ember Island, a fictional place in Brisbane's Moreton Bay, and the struggles of internationally renown but reluctant writer, Nina, who, discovering her property on the island (once owned by her grandmother) has been damaged in a storm, arrives to oversee repairs. Only, the house isn't the only thing needing fixing. Nina is nursing a wounded heart and suffering from terrible writers' block and, as the story unfolds, readers learn she is burdened from carrying a guilty secret as well.

The story shifts gear back to the late 1800s and the life of orphaned Matilda Kirkland who, after her beloved grandfather dies, follows her new husband, Jasper, to Guernsey in the Channel Islands to take up life as a wife and all that entails. Only, when Tilly (as she is known) arrives, nothing is as it seems and her dream future with the dashing Jasper soon becomes a nightmare from which she must wake or perish.

Segueing between the two stories of two very different women, the connecting thread being Nina's grandmother, Eleanor or Nell, and the diaries she has left of her childhood on Ember Island, the reader is immersed in their separate travails and quest to find both love and peace, a place to settle their restless souls, but without sacrificing their sense of self.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shirley McDonald on October 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book starts off in the 1800's and the story of a young girl called Tilly, it then goes to this century and involves a girl called Nina, an author who is visiting Ember Island and resesarching her great-great grandmother's life. The story does flow and even though it goes between life now and the life in the 1800's it wasn't disjointed. An interesting book and being set in Australia I probably enjoyed it more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. Woodland TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I must admit to liking books with a premise like the one in Ember Island - a present heroine finding herself through the help of a past relative. It's almost time travel but only through diary reading.

Nina is an author who is suffering from writer's block and so she sets off to the titular spot to try and find a way to write again. I have to admit that Nina is a bit of a pill. Very hard to like and rather whiny. While visiting the family home she finds her grandmother's diaries which takes the reader back in time to explore the story of Tilly, a young woman born in a time when women really had no control over their lives. Tilly marries but her husband is a louse and she finds herself running away for reasons I'm not going to share and she ends up on Ember Island as a governess to young Nell, the prison warden's daughter and Nina's great grandmother. As Nina learns about Tilly through those diaries she finds that perhaps some secrets need stay buried.

This is my first book by Ms. Freeman and I did enjoy it for the most part. It did drag in parts and it was confusing at times trying to keep the three women's stories going in my head. They do all come together in the end but at times I was a touch lost. As I wrote Nina was not overly likable and Tilly was not the easiest of characters either. Nell I found the be the most developed and the one I enjoyed the most. Unlikable characters are part of life but Nina didn't seem to grow, at least to me.

I enjoyed the parts in the past more than the ones in the present - I'm not sure precisely why. Perhaps because I just enjoy historical fiction more than I enjoy current fiction.

3.5

*I received a free copy for my honest review
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By arbjames on May 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
In this Jane Eyre-esque novel, Tilly Kirkland finds herself alone and longing for love in the late 1800s. Having been orphaned at a young age, she was raised by her kindly grandfather, but as his death loomed near, he unknowingly condemned her to a loveless marriage and promptly died. Faced with her husband's disdain, deceit, and potential violence, she knew she had to escape, but in one awful moment everything went wrong. Tilly does the only thing she can think of--she runs as far as she can go, under an assumed name, and finds work as a governess on an island prison. Her student is the precocious Nell Holt, daughter of the prison's superintendent.

In the present day, Nina is faced with horrible writer's block as she tries to write her fourth novel. She is a descendant of Nell Holt's and happens to own the same house that Nell lived in as a child on the titular Ember Island. When checking for storm damage, she discovers pages from Nell's lost diary, and as she finds more bits and pieces, Tilly's story takes shape. Nina is a modern-day Tilly, looking for love yet feeling unworthy of it. Will Tilly and Nina find the love they so desperately crave?

This was a very interesting novel that alternates between the past and present as the characters' stories are told. There is certainly a critique in here about the treatment of women! The most wonderful character of all is Nell, who in may ways is just as desperate for love as Tilly and Nina.
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More About the Author

Kimberley Freeman is an Australian author of contemporary women's fiction, who has an alter-ego as a fantasy writer under her real name Kim Wilkins. She has a PhD in English and teaches on faculty at the University of Queensland. When she's not writing, that means she's asleep.

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