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ARC Book Review: ‘Bethlehem’ by Karen Kelly

Title: Bethlehem

Author: Karen Kelly

Length: 304 pages

Publisher: St. Martins Press

This is a tricky book for me to review. I’ve had it on my Netgalley shelf for a while, so I thought I’d get started on it.

A young woman arrives at the grand ancestral home of her husbands family, hoping to fortify her cracking marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed. Inspired by the true titans of the steel-boom era, Bethlehem is a story of temptation and regret, a of secrets and the cost of keeping them, a story of forgiveness. It is the story of two complex women – thrown together in the name of family – who, in coming to understand each other, come to finally understand themselves.

The story is set in two different times, the 1920s and the 1960s. I love a book that uses this format. It’s so interesting to see characters at different points in their lives. How the their life has shaped them. So the style was just what I like. The premise intrigued me also.

I have to be honest, the first half of this book I did not enjoy. At all. If I hadn’t got this from Netgalley, in all honesty I think I would’ve DNF’d it.

Nothing happened, in the first half of the novel. It was dull. Also, there were just so many characters and they all had nicknames. I couldn’t remember everyone, or figure out who was who. It just made the whole book unenjoyable. I’ve seen a few other people think this way too.

However, I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this book. The second half I loved. Seriously, I looked at my kindle it was 50% when I started to enjoy this book.

Honestly I couldn’t put it down. The story became interesting. There was a romance, that was so sweet and sincere, I loved it. There was some mystery, that had a very satisfying ending. Both of the stories just became better. The writing picked up. The whole second half was just cleaner. It had more direction. It also had one of my favourite epilogues. Sometimes they can make it break a story, but I loved this one.

The best thing was the characters became much more likeable, I mean what’s a book without it’s characters. I had such empathy for them. They turned this book around.

This is a difficult one for me to recommend but I think ultimately I would. Maybe read it if you’re a patient reading who really likes to let a story build. Is it my favourite historical fiction book I’ve read this year? No. But it’s certainly not the worst.

I have to thank Netgalley and St. Martins Press for gifting me with a copy of this book, in return for an honest, unbiased review. This book is out 9th July.

Until the next review


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