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Let Aurora enchant you...
on October 30, 2011
The Girl on the Cliff is a novel with many strands. There's the present day story of how Grania Ryan meets Aurora Devonshire on the edge of a cliff, how the relationship between the two of them changes their lives, how it brings up a lot of resentment for Grania's mother who has long been privy to the feud between the Ryan family and the Lisle family. The novel starts in present day, but eventually, we head back in time, to how the Lisles and the Ryans came to feud. How moments in time made it so that the Ryans and the Lisles saw each other as enemies and the Ryans worried that the Lisles would forever make them miserable, would forever ruin their lives... I mean, there's so much going on in the novel that I couldn't possibly describe it all, but it all culminates in the present day relationship between Grania and Aurora and how, despite having a decades-long feud, one little girl can be an instigator for change.
The novel may include many characters, but the character who makes a lasting impression is Aurora. She may only be a child, but she's one of the most wise and grown-up children characters you'll ever meet. It's like she has a sixth sense most of the time and I fell totally in love with her. She's so captivating and I so admired her spirit. For a girl who has lost so much, for a girl without her mother, her exuberance and joie de vivre and lust for life is just awesome. She acts so much older than her age - 8, 9 - and I can see exactly why Grania completely fell in love with her.
The many different stories and layers that make up the novel are also exquisite. Mary's war-time story was massively captivating - what she did, what she sacrificed, how it mirrored what Aurora was doing, was so lovely to read. The most difficult part of the novel to read, for me, was the story of Lily, Aurora's mother and Grania's mother Kathleen's cousin. That story wasn't pleasant, but it answered a lot of questions and was a necessary part to the story. The entire novel is like one big puzzle and we slowly learn of all the pieces until we have a completely jigsaw. Riley's ability it just something else. The telling of the novel is at just the right pace that kept me reading and we were told just enough during each chapter to whet our appetites for more and leave us with fewer and fewer questions until the novel reached its satisfying conclusion.
Lucinda Riley knows how to write a captivating novel. From the early war-time to present day, the entire book was just immense. I had a couple of issues with the writing of the novel (Irish writers, with the greatest of respect, sometimes write the most bizarre sentences: "I'm for my bed" for example and adding "so it is" and "so you know" unnecessarily into sentences and the American parts of the novel were somewhat forced "I'm real sorry", "I'm real tired", "I gotta go") but I didn't let it detract from the book. Because The Girl on the Cliff is immense. It's layered, it's intricate, it's just brilliant. I was hooked the entire time I was reading and Aurora, Grania, Lily, Mary... Their stories will stay with me. Aurora's most of all, the most captivating character I've read this year. This book is about lots of things, lots of important things, but everybody who finishes the novel will remember Aurora most of all. I'm very, very pleased I gave this novel a go because I wouldn't have half missed a truly brilliant read.