postcards from the past book coverReviewed by Nina Longfield

Postcards from the Past begins with a lovely description of moonshine on a lake as seen from the comfort of the home. It’s a beautiful inviting entry that gently turns inward to fretting over the intrigue brought with the morning mail. Marcia Willett has written an engaging story about brother and sister, Edmund (Ed) and Wilhelmina (Billa) St. Enedoc, and their home in west Cornwall.

The intrigue brought with the morning mail is a postcard from Ed and Billa’s estranged stepbrother, Tristan (Tris). He simply writes “A blast from the past. How are you doing? Perhaps I should pay a visit and find out!” – signed Tris. Yet Billa’s fretting over the message suggests a certain enmity in the family and the suggested visit is taken as a threat to the calm, simple life Ed and Billa have built in their rural community. It’s not until the introduction of Dominic (Dom) Black in the second chapter that the reader gets a sense of Billa’s worry about her stepbrother Tris coming back into their lives. Dom is a ‘sort of relative’ a few years older than Billa and Ed who has provided the siblings a neutral ally through their adolescence and close friendship through life.

Reading Postcards from the Past feels like an inviting visit to Cornwall and the St. Enedoc home. Marcia Willett’s characters are charming, multidimensional, and well crafted. Willett carries the intrigue of her narrative all the way through her novel. Throughout Postcards from the Past, Willett introduces many interesting characters and gives them life. Only Tris remains a mystery until the end and that plotting propels the story.

Willett’s writing is mostly clear with vivid descriptions. However, it is Willett’s overlong descriptions that tend to get in the way of the story from time to time. There were occasions in reading in which I glanced over the description of the kitchen or the scenery just so I could get back to the heart of the story.

Despite the episodes of wandering descriptions and prolonged digressions, I found Postcards from the Past to be engaging. Ed, Billa, and Dom feel like old friends and I was somewhat disappointed when the story ended, as I wanted to remain within their company. Yet Postcards from the Past was a good story with a solid ending and was an entertaining read.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Thomas Dunne Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.