In Billie's Kiss, author Elizabeth Knox beautifully captures the time and place of the story, but sadly the story itself fell short of my expectations.
I discovered Elizabeth Knox through her first novel The Vintner's Luck. Something about that novel absolutely captured my imagination and it now one of my favourite books. I reviewed it on Page Turners last year and gave it 8 stars out of 8 stars. So when I saw more of her books for sale at a local book fair I purchased as many as I could thinking that they would be just as amazing. Sadly, Billie's Kiss just didn't hit the mark in the same way that The Vintner's Luck did.
Billie's Kiss is set on a remote Scottish island in the very early 20th Century. It begins with tragedy, being the death of Billie's older and heavily pregnant sister when the ferry carrying them to the island explodes. Most of the other passengers are killed, and Billie's brother-in-law only just survives after a period of illness. Immediately before the boating accident, Billi jumped from the boat and so naturally suspicion falls upon her, especially on the part of Murdo Hesketh. Murdo Hesketh, the cousin of the island's 'owner' Lord Hollowhulme, was also on the boat and he begins his own personal investigation into how the explosion occurred.
What follows is basically a slow moving exploration of both of these characters. We are given insight into their pasts by way of explanation for the people that they have become.
What Knox does well in Billie's Kiss is capture the essence of the island. The island is bleak and gloomy. The book has a very Gothic feel, you can sense the darkness in the characters and in the scenery.
And yet, the book moved as such a slow pace that it was difficult to keep reading at times. Nothing of any great significance occurred until the very end, when the conclusion to the mystery of the boat explosion is revealed in a sudden burst of activity that didn't at all match the rest of the book.
Although I did not respond well to Billie's Kiss, I still remain a big fan of Elizabeth Knox. I think that she has a very talented way of using language to create a sense of place and I hope that people are not put off reading her other works, particularly The Vintner's Luck.
What kind of read is this?
Slow and somewhat challenging.
Do I recommend this book?
I really recommend this author, but not this book so much.
Do I recommend that you buy this book?
No. I recommend that you buy The Vintner's Luck, and if you love it and want to read her other books, then I recommend that you borrow this one from the library.
Have you read any of Elizabeth Knox's books? I would love to know what you think of her.