Love, betrayal, heartbreak, and the bonds of friendship are center-most in Judith Kinghorn’s The Echo of Twilight. Pearl Gibson is about to embark on a new journey as a lady’s maid. As her travels bring her to her new post, she encounters a charming young artist named Ralph, and a forbidden love is born. Settling into her new position, Pearl develops an unusual friendship with her employer, Ottoline, one that will shape her future in ways she never could have seen coming, bringing her the greatest joy she could ever know and the deepest sadness she will ever experience.
While I’ve read many books set during World War II, I haven’t delved too much into the World War I era. Judith Kinghorn brought this time of uncertainty to life in The Echo of Twilight, and I vividly got a picture of what it might have been like to be a woman in that time period. Through Pearl’s narrative, I got to experience being at the mercy and kindness of those that were born into wealth. Through Pearl’s impressions of Ottoline’s world, I got to experience a more leisurely way of living. And through their decision to share each other’s secrets, I got a shocking reality check of how difficult it would have been in another time to maintain one’s reputation after having a child out of wedlock. In modern times, we don’t really blink an eye when our single friend tells us she’s going to have a baby with the boyfriend she’s been living with for four months. Over a hundred years ago, that would never have been a possibility.
The friendship between Pearl and Ottoline was one I admired at times, and then at others was saddened by, especially as Ottoline’s motives were revealed. There was a particularly touching scene early on in the books where Ottoline and Pearl reversed their roles, and Ottoline acted as Pearl’s maid in order to make her feel special for her birthday. Then, later on in their lives, something I felt almost unforgivable was revealed. Even then, I still found it difficult to truly hate Ottoline, because her final gift to Pearl seemed to be almost a way of asking for forgiveness and attempting to set things right.
Though set during the war, The Echo of Twilight focuses less on the war and more on the relationships between the two women, their lovers, and how the war affected their relationships with one another. I admired them for their creativity in which to keep their reputations intact, their strength to survive while those around them were taken by war, and how they took care of each other despite their different stations in life.
Beautifully written, The Echo of Twilight isn’t the type of book you should expect to read through in a day. Rather, it’s one you should take your time to experience, stepping into the shoes of the main characters and taking a step back into the history that shaped the world we live in today.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Berkley. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.