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The Women of Pearl Island

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"A luminous and beautiful novel that gently lures the reader into a captivating story with a mystery at its heart." - Jennifer Saint, bestselling author of Ariadne Set on a secluded island off the British coast, The Women of Pearl Island is a moving and evocative story of family secrets, natural wonders and a mystery spanning decades. When Tartelin answers an ad for a person "A luminous and beautiful novel that gently lures the reader into a captivating story with a mystery at its heart." - Jennifer Saint, bestselling author of Ariadne Set on a secluded island off the British coast, The Women of Pearl Island is a moving and evocative story of family secrets, natural wonders and a mystery spanning decades. When Tartelin answers an ad for a personal assistant, she doesn't know what to expect from her new employer, Marianne, an eccentric elderly woman. Marianne lives on a remote island that her family has owned for generations, and for decades her only companions have been butterflies and tightly held memories of her family. But there are some memories Marianne would rather forget, such as when the island was commandeered by the British government during WWII. Now, if Marianne can trust Tartelin with her family's story, she might finally be able to face the long-buried secrets of her past that have kept her isolated for far too long.


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"A luminous and beautiful novel that gently lures the reader into a captivating story with a mystery at its heart." - Jennifer Saint, bestselling author of Ariadne Set on a secluded island off the British coast, The Women of Pearl Island is a moving and evocative story of family secrets, natural wonders and a mystery spanning decades. When Tartelin answers an ad for a person "A luminous and beautiful novel that gently lures the reader into a captivating story with a mystery at its heart." - Jennifer Saint, bestselling author of Ariadne Set on a secluded island off the British coast, The Women of Pearl Island is a moving and evocative story of family secrets, natural wonders and a mystery spanning decades. When Tartelin answers an ad for a personal assistant, she doesn't know what to expect from her new employer, Marianne, an eccentric elderly woman. Marianne lives on a remote island that her family has owned for generations, and for decades her only companions have been butterflies and tightly held memories of her family. But there are some memories Marianne would rather forget, such as when the island was commandeered by the British government during WWII. Now, if Marianne can trust Tartelin with her family's story, she might finally be able to face the long-buried secrets of her past that have kept her isolated for far too long.

30 review for The Women of Pearl Island

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gloria Arthur (Ms. G's Bookshelf)

    ⭐️5 Stars⭐️ I absolutely loved The Women of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby! The story was mysterious and intriguing throughout and I couldn’t put it down. The author is a skilful story teller, but don’t let the gorgeous cover make you think this is a happy story about butterflies because it’s far from it. The writing is beautiful and has a slightly dark atmospheric feel to it, it was the perfect read for me! The story is set on a tiny island called Dohhalund which had belonged to Marianne Stoubridge ⭐️5 Stars⭐️ I absolutely loved The Women of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby! The story was mysterious and intriguing throughout and I couldn’t put it down. The author is a skilful story teller, but don’t let the gorgeous cover make you think this is a happy story about butterflies because it’s far from it. The writing is beautiful and has a slightly dark atmospheric feel to it, it was the perfect read for me! The story is set on a tiny island called Dohhalund which had belonged to Marianne Stoubridge’s family for hundreds of years. There is a deserted military base at one end of the island and Dogger Bank House, Marianne’s residence at the other. The island is now mostly deserted. Marianne is a stern old lady, she’s reclusive, wheelchair bound and carries a secret from her past that has left its mark on her. She has employed a young woman named Tartelin to hunt for butterflies so she can continue her research on the species. I don’t want to give any more away….. so I’ve kept my review short. Compelling characters that are likeable, dual timelines and a plot that keeps you on edge and a story to savour. Super interesting and haunting , highly recommended. Now I must now check out Polly Crosby’s previous novel The Book of Hidden Wonders to read! Publication date September 29 2021 (Note: This is called The Unravelling in the UK) Thank you to Harper Collins Australia & Harlequin Australia for a copy of the book to read and review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    I had high hopes for this book, I loved the cover and the blurb, but sadly I couldn’t connect with the characters, the description of the island of Dohhalund over the years was fabulous the changing landscape was all done really well as we meet Marianne and Tartelin as they form a bond to find answers. Marianne grew up on this island that had been in her mother’s family for hundreds of years but life started to change around 1928 when Marianne was fifteen everything that had been their bread and I had high hopes for this book, I loved the cover and the blurb, but sadly I couldn’t connect with the characters, the description of the island of Dohhalund over the years was fabulous the changing landscape was all done really well as we meet Marianne and Tartelin as they form a bond to find answers. Marianne grew up on this island that had been in her mother’s family for hundreds of years but life started to change around 1928 when Marianne was fifteen everything that had been their bread and butter, herring fishing, pearls and silk making was slowly ending, then the war arrived and the army moved in testing bombs and in 1955 something terrible happened that changed everything for Marianne. It is now 2018 and Marianne has moved back to her island but now she needs help and hires young Tartelin to be her eyes and legs to get around the island so as she can check the insects to see the changes that have happened, but as they spend more time together Marianne opens up about the terrible family secrets and the things that happened, Tartelin is already grieving her mother but Marianne’s life and need to know helps Tartelin to grow more confident and grow to love the island as much as Marianne does. This is a beautifully written story and it is sure to appeal to many readers and it has some fabulous reviews but it just didn’t hit the spot with me, but the descriptions of the changing landscapes was so well done over the years, Dohhalund sounds like a lovely island that had many things happen to it. My thanks to the publisher Harlequin AU for my copy to read and review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brooke - One Woman's Brief Book Reviews

    *www.onewomansbbr.wordpress.com *www.facebook.com/onewomansbbr The Women of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby. (2021). **Thank you to Harlequin Australia for sending me a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review; published 29 September 2021** When Tartelin accepts a job with the reclusive Marianne, she finds herself on a wild island with a mysterious history. She is tasked with hunting butterflies for Marianne's research. But she quickly uncovers something far more intriguing than the c *www.onewomansbbr.wordpress.com *www.facebook.com/onewomansbbr The Women of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby. (2021). **Thank you to Harlequin Australia for sending me a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review; published 29 September 2021** When Tartelin accepts a job with the reclusive Marianne, she finds herself on a wild island with a mysterious history. She is tasked with hunting butterflies for Marianne's research. But she quickly uncovers something far more intriguing than the curious creatures on the island. Because the island and Marianne share a remarkable history, and what happened all those years ago has left scars and terrible secrets. As Tartelin pieces together Marianne's connection to the island, she must confront her own reasons for being there. Can the two women finally face up to the painful memories that bind them to the past? I was intrigued by the synopsis of this novel and I'm not going to lie, I was also very much drawn to the stunning cover. This story included dual timelines, with Marianne being a feature in both. In the more recent timeline we have Tartelin as the main focus. I think to begin with Marianne appears a bit unlikable with her behaviour being a bit blunt and off-putting, but as the reader learns more about her history she becomes more approachable. I must admit I was surprised when I realised Tartelin was only roughly 20 years old; I thought she was older as she seemed so world weary at times. The book ended up in a direction I wasn't expecting at all, and I did think the descriptions of the island and its inhabitants were quite beautiful. However I also thought the pacing was a bit slow moving and I had quite a few unanswered questions at the end. Overall: I would recommend this book for those readers that enjoy dual timeline fiction and appreciate an unusual mystery in a story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This was actually a very good book. I think for me, this was a case of expectations and reality not really matching up. A young woman, Tartelin, answers a much older woman, Marianne’s ad for a personal assistant. In the process, she finds herself traveling to a small island off the coast of England to meet with her. This island was commandeered by the British govt. during WWII and we have an inkling from the beginning that our older MC has a deep backstory and is fairly flawed as a result. I lov This was actually a very good book. I think for me, this was a case of expectations and reality not really matching up. A young woman, Tartelin, answers a much older woman, Marianne’s ad for a personal assistant. In the process, she finds herself traveling to a small island off the coast of England to meet with her. This island was commandeered by the British govt. during WWII and we have an inkling from the beginning that our older MC has a deep backstory and is fairly flawed as a result. I loved this book for about the first half. Polly Crosby writes beautifully, and all of the natural aspects of the island were really played up, as Marianne is studying butterflies, and as she is housebound, she needs an asst. to collect specimens, etc. Of course both MCs experience a fair amount of growth, both from their interactions with each other as well as from folks on the island. For me though this took a turn which brought in quite a bit of darkness that maybe I should have expected, but didn’t, and it really wasn’t suiting my mood at all by the end. Also the audio performance was a bit…monotonal? Is that even a word? I would probably at least take a look at anything this author wrote, but if you’re a reader who judges a book by its cover, I’d recommend not doing so with this one. This isn’t a light and happy read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I’ve never read one of Polly Crosby’s books before THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND, but I know for sure, this won’t be my last one! She hooked me from the very first page and never let me go! Polly sure knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat while reading and I love when an author does that to me. THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND is the story of two women who couldn’t be more different from each other. Marianne is a recluse, in a wheel chair, and is very set in her ways. Tartelin is hired to hunt for I’ve never read one of Polly Crosby’s books before THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND, but I know for sure, this won’t be my last one! She hooked me from the very first page and never let me go! Polly sure knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat while reading and I love when an author does that to me. THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND is the story of two women who couldn’t be more different from each other. Marianne is a recluse, in a wheel chair, and is very set in her ways. Tartelin is hired to hunt for butterflies for her research. If you are in a reading slump, THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND will pull you right out! It is not a cute, love filled kind of book! It’s crazy and messed up and that is exactly why I loved it! My emotions were all over the place and I’m sure yours will be too. The twists and turns just keep coming. So much so, that you won’t be able to put THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND until the very end. My emotions were on one heck of a roller coaster ride while reading and as soon as I was finished, I immediately checked on Goodreads for more of her books! THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND is a book which tugs at your heart and soul in the most comforting way. It’s one to experience wholeheartedly and then to save it to read later many more times. THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND takes place on a tiny island called Dohhalund. It has belonged to Marianne Stoubridge’s family for hundreds of years. There is also an abandoned military base at the end of the island and Dogger Bank House, Marianne’s residence on the other end. The island is now pretty much deserted. I look forward to reading Ms. Crosby’s previous books that I haven’t gotten to yet as well as her future ones. Overall, THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND is a book I can say nothing but fantastic things about. There is so much heart in Polly’s writing that I was left with a huge smile on my face and my heart, very happy. All of the characters are very interesting and believable, so much so that I felt as if I’ve known them for a long time. There is so much going on in this story, but Polly does a wonderful job of weaving all the pieces together. All of the characters will have you feeling sad and then smiling on the same page. Once you finish devouring this story, you are going to want to tell everyone you know about this awesome book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Park Row through Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Kind of disappointing. With such a beautiful cover I had high expectations for this dual timeline historical mystery. I'm usually all about these types of books but I honestly found the story dragged. Parts were interesting but they couldn't make up for the overall slow-paced uninteresting plot. Just okay on audio, this might have been one that was better consumed in print. Recommended for fans of books like The scent keeper. Kind of disappointing. With such a beautiful cover I had high expectations for this dual timeline historical mystery. I'm usually all about these types of books but I honestly found the story dragged. Parts were interesting but they couldn't make up for the overall slow-paced uninteresting plot. Just okay on audio, this might have been one that was better consumed in print. Recommended for fans of books like The scent keeper.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 2.5 stars The author of the bestselling novel The Book of Wonders presents a new tale filled with imagination, speculation and deep emotion. An alluring dual timeline narrative, The Women of Pearl Island is a surreal and redolent tale, that will spark the interest of the right type of reader for this novel. The Women of Pearl Island follows two main characters who are both tied to the mysterious island of Dohhalund, which is situated off the coast of East Angl *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 2.5 stars The author of the bestselling novel The Book of Wonders presents a new tale filled with imagination, speculation and deep emotion. An alluring dual timeline narrative, The Women of Pearl Island is a surreal and redolent tale, that will spark the interest of the right type of reader for this novel. The Women of Pearl Island follows two main characters who are both tied to the mysterious island of Dohhalund, which is situated off the coast of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. We meet Tartelin Brown, a woman who decides to take up a position at this untamed island kingdom with Marianne Stourbridge, a hermit of sorts. As she settles into her new role, Tartelin delves into the murky history of this wild place. One of the tasks that Tartelin is issued with is to search for butterflies that inhabit this island. But there are secrets to be uncovered about the butterflies that inhabit the island that captivates the curious Tartelin. As this story gentle unfurls, Marianne’s long history with the island is revealed and a shocking hidden truth is finally aired. Tartelin is part of this puzzle, working to piece fragments of the island’s past together in order to help Marianne move on from her haunting past. Polly Crosby is not a new name to me and I’m guilty of having her previous novel sitting on my shelves unread for over a year now. I do hope to give The Book of Hidden Wonders a whirl sometime soon. Crosby’s latest release has also been gathering dust on my review shelves for a few months now and the school holiday break afforded me some vital time to catch up on some novels that I have been wanting to read for some time now. With such a majestic cover and an intriguing premise, I was really looking forward to escaping into Polly Crosby’s latest fictional world. I absolutely fell in love with the beautiful cover of The Women of Pearl Island. I think it has to be one of my favourite cover designs of the year. I think I attached a lot of hope to this book and I did expect to love it a lot more than I actually did. It features a dual timeline narrative, with one storyline set in World War II, which is a favourite time period for me personally. The Women of Pearl Island also features a very atmospheric setting. It acquired a lot of early ticks of approval for me. However, not long after beginning the novel I noted its slow pace, meandering narrative with little progression or excitement. I struggled to connect with the characters who were quite curt and unlikeable. My mind drifted away from Polly Crosby’s idyllic Dohhalund island. There was some evocative and vivid prose attached to the location, but it wasn’t enough to carry to novel forward. Those who like dreamy, mystical and fantasy like locations will possibly enjoy this one more than I did. I was left with some lingering questions and almost a level of misunderstanding when I closed off The Women of Pearl Island, so it was an unsatisfactory read for me. There are other glowing reviews for Polly Crosby’s second novel floating around so please do check them out if this book sparks some interest. *I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

    The Unravelling is such a great read, it has the haunting atmospheric feel that the synopsis mentions. The story is based on a small island, Dohhalund and only one house is inhabited, Dogger House. This island and house have been in the ownership of the Stourbridge family for generations. Marianne is the current resident, she has employed Tartelin to help her with her work documenting the changes don't the island and of the butterflies. Once a community of herring workers worked here, and the fam The Unravelling is such a great read, it has the haunting atmospheric feel that the synopsis mentions. The story is based on a small island, Dohhalund and only one house is inhabited, Dogger House. This island and house have been in the ownership of the Stourbridge family for generations. Marianne is the current resident, she has employed Tartelin to help her with her work documenting the changes don't the island and of the butterflies. Once a community of herring workers worked here, and the family also used to collect the pearls from the oysters. They then moved into the silk business. It is the silk that occupied a young Marianne's time as she cared for the silkworms. The story alternates between timelines and tells the life of a young Marianne and the people in her life at the time. What happened years ago and why was the island taken over by the military in 1955. This is something that nags a Tartelin's conscience. As does the mystery of why a wheelchair-bound Marianne has returned after all these years. This is really a stunning story that almost has an ethereal feel to it, the memories and events of the past just sit out of sight of Tartelin and she must indeed unravel the mysteries of the previous decades. Marianne is not forthcoming with information, but there are hints and clues. Marianne is not the only one to return to the island, there are visitors such as birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. This is one of those stories that I was able to completely lose myself in. The story and the characters flitted back, forth and around like the butterflies. There is a gentle ebb and flow to the story which is reminiscent of the tide as one thing is solved for another to take its place. As Tartelin discovers more about the island and of Marianne she starts to see changes in herself, she is taking more risks and is coming into her own. For me, she was very much like a butterfly as it transforms. This is a gorgeously written story, atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful. Captivating and totally immersive. It is one for those that like delving into mysteries of the past, to discover more about a family and to discover the secrets. This is a book I would definitely recommend.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sue Frances

    I couldn't read this book, hated the thought of the beautiful butterflies and moths being captured and held in jars and then pinned! I couldn't read this book, hated the thought of the beautiful butterflies and moths being captured and held in jars and then pinned!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    I have to say I struggled with this one. I was really looking forward to reading it as it sounded like a great book. But it just didn't draw me in, it left me felling as if I would never finish reading it as it just dragged on and on. The overall concept of the story was good, the characters were good but I always felt that Tarteline was much younger than she actually was (I think this was just the way she was written). The story dragged and although the descriptiveness was good I got bored with I have to say I struggled with this one. I was really looking forward to reading it as it sounded like a great book. But it just didn't draw me in, it left me felling as if I would never finish reading it as it just dragged on and on. The overall concept of the story was good, the characters were good but I always felt that Tarteline was much younger than she actually was (I think this was just the way she was written). The story dragged and although the descriptiveness was good I got bored with it after a while. Disappointed with the slowness and lack of excitement. The Women of Pearl Island Polly Crosby HarperCollins Publishers Limited

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND is the story of three women who couldn’t be more different from each other. Marianne is a recluse, in a wheel chair, and is very set in her ways. Nan is a young woman from her past, that is definitely affecting her present. Tartelin is hired to hunt for butterflies for her research and assist her with personal needs. She is drawn to the island and the water. The story is set on Dohhalund, a remote island off the British Coast and has been owned by Marianne's family for THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND is the story of three women who couldn’t be more different from each other. Marianne is a recluse, in a wheel chair, and is very set in her ways. Nan is a young woman from her past, that is definitely affecting her present. Tartelin is hired to hunt for butterflies for her research and assist her with personal needs. She is drawn to the island and the water. The story is set on Dohhalund, a remote island off the British Coast and has been owned by Marianne's family for generations. She lived on the island for years and only recently returned after the British Government decommissioned it after commandeering it during WWII. Marianne has secrets and memories that keep her going, but what is she doing with the butterflies Tartelin catches and why? This is a beautifully written, lyrical story. Tartelin's discovery of the island was interesting and intriguing. There were a few other people on the island that helped with that discover, as well as adding to the gothic atmosphere. The older woman who lived in a small hut was very interesting and had my curiosity going, the young man, Jacob, adds companionship as well as teaching her about the island, especially some of the dangers. The relationship between Tartelin and Marianne is complicated. They are employee and employer, but there is also a closeness that develops living in the same house, working together and being alone. Gradually Marianne opens up and begins to share some of her memories and secrets. The story is told in two timelines, with the past being told by Marianne. We learn about silkworms and silk, the herring industry and pearls all wrapped up in a wonderful story. There is a lot happening in this story, but Polly Crosby does a wonderful job of weaving all the pieces together. As the secrets are revealed, I found myself smiling and weepy at the same time. This is a story to experience and I recommend it to those who enjoy a beautifully written book with family, secrets, self-discovery and forgiveness. I did a read/listen with this one. I listened in the car while driving, but in the evening, I read the book to immerse myself in the words. The audiobook was wonderfully narrated by Katherine Press. She is a new narrator to me, but I will definitely look for more books she has performed. Her voice was expressive and lyrical adding to the atmosphere and my enjoyment of this story. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ranjini Shankar

    This one took a while to build up and grab my interest. It was only in the last quarter that anything is revealed but even that didn’t feel very satisfactory. The Women of Pearl Island is a very atmospheric read and the descriptions really make you feel like you’re on a desolate island. It has a dual timeline with one starting in present day following Tartelin who has accepted a job on a remote island as an assistant to an eccentric elderly lady, Marianne. The second POV is from Marianne in the This one took a while to build up and grab my interest. It was only in the last quarter that anything is revealed but even that didn’t feel very satisfactory. The Women of Pearl Island is a very atmospheric read and the descriptions really make you feel like you’re on a desolate island. It has a dual timeline with one starting in present day following Tartelin who has accepted a job on a remote island as an assistant to an eccentric elderly lady, Marianne. The second POV is from Marianne in the past and her life on the island. Once the reveals started happening I was hooked but there was just no pay off. In a strange way the two POVs and timelines never really came together and the most interesting bits (Nan’s departure, her departure, her actual success in silk making, her mother’s death, what happened to her legs) we really don’t get any descriptions of. Instead we get select anecdotes of incidents that aren’t as relevant and then complete gloss over seemingly important stories. Marianne’s character development is poorly constructed with her refusing to explain anything and then giving in right away for no real reason. It was a very strangely plotted book with mixed messages.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Catalina

    A slow paced book that's also predictable? No thank you. It took me over 1 week to read this and I cannot stop myself from feeling disappointed: so much effort with no reward. The ingredients of the story draw me in: an almost abandoned island; unusual animals that may be the proof of secret military operations, an old women that's closely guarding unspeakable secrets and a young girl full of grief and in need of human affection. But the story that's delivered is sadly underwhelming. The natural A slow paced book that's also predictable? No thank you. It took me over 1 week to read this and I cannot stop myself from feeling disappointed: so much effort with no reward. The ingredients of the story draw me in: an almost abandoned island; unusual animals that may be the proof of secret military operations, an old women that's closely guarding unspeakable secrets and a young girl full of grief and in need of human affection. But the story that's delivered is sadly underwhelming. The natural world mystery is not such a mystery after all; and not to mention that it's also an overused cliche. The relationship between the 2 main characters is underdeveloped. The supposed affection that develops between them is not very evident, as most of the book Marianne is very cold toward Tartelin. The secrets that are revealed are forced out by Tartelin demanding her employer bare her soul - something that really grated, to be honest, as Tartelin has no right to ask such personal things of her employer and comes across as a bit of a entitled young adult. The only evident bit of emotion is to be found in the last 10 pages of the book and even then nothing to really touch the reader. Marianne's story is somewhat enjoyable despite its predictability. I've liked the descriptions and details of life on an island and the class differences alluded at throughout the story. The writing is lovely, but in this instance is just not enough to make up for the unsatisfying story. *Book from NetGalley with many thanks to the publisher!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alyson Stone

    Book: The Women of Pearl Island Author: Polly Crosby Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars I would like to thank the publisher, Park Row, for sending me an ARC. So, this is another classic example of how a book had just enough to keep me going-even when I really thought about putting it down. In this one, we follow two women who have been brought together by chance. Tartelin has answered an ad for a personal assistant on a very secluded island. She thinks that this will be the chance to start over and give he Book: The Women of Pearl Island Author: Polly Crosby Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars I would like to thank the publisher, Park Row, for sending me an ARC. So, this is another classic example of how a book had just enough to keep me going-even when I really thought about putting it down. In this one, we follow two women who have been brought together by chance. Tartelin has answered an ad for a personal assistant on a very secluded island. She thinks that this will be the chance to start over and give her time to grieve after her mother’s passing. When she arrives, she quickly learns that there is more to the island and to her employer, Marianne, than what meets the eye. This island has been untouched by time-that was until the army arrived in the late 1950s and started doing test. After this, everything has changed or, at least, according to Marianne. From here, the story starts. Then, we through a little hint about their maybe being mermaids existing on the island. I would say that it was this sense of the unknown that kept me going. We switch back and forth between Tartelin’s point of view and Marianne. The story also flips back and forth between time periods. In each time period, we are given just enough information that makes us want to keep reading. We are given just enough clues that make you want to see the book through to the end. I think that this was a great move on Polly’s part. At least, it worked with keeping me reading and wanting to know what was going to happen. It was just these little things that gave me hope for the book. I had to keep going…I had to find out what was going to happen next. With all of that being said, I could only give this one a three star rating. While I did see the book clear through to the end, there was just something about it that made me really think about putting it down. I think a lot of it has to do with this disconnect that I had with the main characters. I really didn’t care for them. I felt like they were supposed to pull at my heart, but they didn’t. We were supposed to feel their strength, pain, and joys, but, yet, I felt none of that. I also didn’t care for the romance that developed either. Everything about the characters felt so unrelatable and I don’t know. I just had a really hard time building any kind of attachment to them. I think that what I was most attached to with this book was the plot and that little bit of clues that made me keep going. The writing was beautiful and very detailed. It felt like you were actually on the island with the characters and going throughout the day with them. Still, like with the characters, I sensed a little bit of disconnect. There were parts and details that I just didn’t care about and found myself skimming. There were also parts that I found myself fully invested and engaged in. I just felt like that throughout this whole book there was just enough to keep me going, but also missing just enough that I really did almost put this one down. This book comes out on December 7, 2021.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This book was mysterious, filled with details about the characters, Pearl Island, and especially Marianne and the innocent Tartelin. I was able to piece together parts on my own and other happenings were a surprise. This is my first book of 2022 and it was just right.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anne-Louise

    Following the recent death of her mother, Tartelin applies for a position as assistant to Marianne Stourbridge on the remote island of Dohhalund in the North Sea. Marianne is intimidating, esconced in her crumbling mansion on the edge of a crumbling cliff, with her collection of dead butterflies. Part of Tartelin's job is to catch and kill butterflies for Marianne. But the island is dangerous, Marianne warns her. Feral dogs roam, there's an abandoned military base, the cliffs are eroding, there' Following the recent death of her mother, Tartelin applies for a position as assistant to Marianne Stourbridge on the remote island of Dohhalund in the North Sea. Marianne is intimidating, esconced in her crumbling mansion on the edge of a crumbling cliff, with her collection of dead butterflies. Part of Tartelin's job is to catch and kill butterflies for Marianne. But the island is dangerous, Marianne warns her. Feral dogs roam, there's an abandoned military base, the cliffs are eroding, there's no electricity. Unexpectedly, Tartelin finds other people living in the island - the young man Jacob and his dog, and an old woman who perhaps was once a 'mermaid' - a herring girl - when the island was a bustling business managed by Marianne's father. But there are things not quite right on the island. A white swallow, a white peacock, a long-dead silk moth, a black-headed creature dipping in and out of the waves that might be a seal or might not. I loved this atmospheric and absorbing book, which is part mystery, part character study. The characters leap off the page and the island is beautifully described. There's a subtle sense of underlying menace that kept me gripped even though, on the surface, the plot unfolds relatively slowly. And perhaps that's the theme, what lies beneath the surface, the swirling currents we cannot see, or choose not to. I have a copy of Polly Crosby's first novel, The Illustrated Child, in my 'to be read' pile and after reading The Unravelling, will be moving it much closer to the top. Thanks to the publisher for sending me an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

    Thank you to HQ for approving me to read an arc of ᴛʜᴇ 𝐔𝐍𝐑𝐀𝐕𝐄𝐋𝐋𝐈𝐍𝐆 by Polly Crosby on Netgalley. I've seen some physical proofs for this novel on social media and they are STUNNING, and the image here is the final cover art 💙🦋 - 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐧𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐦𝐲 𝐬𝐥𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐢𝐬 𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐭 𝐛𝐥𝐮𝐞, 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐤 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐦𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐈 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐦𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐈 𝐚𝐦. - I absolutely loved The Unravelling, and there is something really special about Crosby's beautiful and immersive storytelling. She is able to craft st Thank you to HQ for approving me to read an arc of ᴛʜᴇ 𝐔𝐍𝐑𝐀𝐕𝐄𝐋𝐋𝐈𝐍𝐆 by Polly Crosby on Netgalley. I've seen some physical proofs for this novel on social media and they are STUNNING, and the image here is the final cover art 💙🦋 - 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐧𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐦𝐲 𝐬𝐥𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐢𝐬 𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐭 𝐛𝐥𝐮𝐞, 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐤 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐦𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐈 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐦𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐈 𝐚𝐦. - I absolutely loved The Unravelling, and there is something really special about Crosby's beautiful and immersive storytelling. She is able to craft stunning landscapes and imagery that are so vibrant, and you almost feel as though you could reach out and touch them. - 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐞, 𝐮𝐧𝐟𝐮𝐫𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐰 𝐢𝐧 𝐝𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐝𝐞𝐰 𝐛𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐩𝐭 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐧. - The main protagonist, Tartelin, is hired by Marianne Stourbridge to catch butterflies on her island of Dohhalund. It certainly seems like a timely appointment for Tartelin, who has recently lost her mother, and is struggling with her own grief. - 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐮𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐥𝐲 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐭𝐬 𝐚 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐭 𝐥𝐞𝐠, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐝𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐢𝐫. 𝐁𝐮𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐭, 𝐈 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥. 𝐈 𝐰𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐬, 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐦𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐞-𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐭 𝐟𝐥𝐚𝐯𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐮𝐭. 𝐀 𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐭 𝐡𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐦𝐞, 𝐚 𝐰𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐝𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞. - Marianne is an interesting character. Her story and the traumas of her past are slowly revealed to Tartelin, and the reader, as Tartelin processes her own grief during her time on the Island. Marianne's timeline moves back and forth, between her past as a young girl and grown woman, to her present as a slightly cantankerous old woman, who is searching for something that Tartelin has to coax out of her. I won't give any spoilers here, but I do have to say that there were moments from Marianne's youth where she irritated me with her pomposity. Referring to other people as 'the help' and being obsessed with pearls and frivolities, I did want to give her a good shake! What unfolds in her life though is more than anyone should have to deal with. - 𝐌𝐢𝐬𝐬 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐛𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐠𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐬 ... 𝐈’𝐦 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐬, 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐭𝐨 𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞, 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐧𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐥𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐰𝐬 𝐚𝐢𝐫 𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐭. 𝐌𝐲 𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐬 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 . 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐢𝐫 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐧. - The island itself felt like a character within the book. It's rich and beautiful landscapes, the animals that thrive within it's boundaries, and the hold it has over several of the characters, all give it a personality of it's own. Mirroring Marianne, it has unobtainable secrets, and the intertwined truths between her and the island are eventually uncovered. It's interesting that Crosby wrote this story during the covid-19 pandemic, as the story is mostly confined to the island of Dohhalund and Marianne's home (Dogger Bank House). It does feel like a very insular story in some ways, confined as it is to the narrow scope of the island, but surrounded on all sides by the great vastness of the sea. - 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐚 𝐢𝐬 𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐮𝐩 𝐨𝐟 𝐮𝐧𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐝𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬. 𝐍𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐈 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐈 𝐝𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐰. 𝐇𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐝𝐞𝐞𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐞𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐝𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐜𝐞𝐚𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐧 𝐞𝐜𝐡𝐨 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦, 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐮𝐧𝐭 𝐮𝐬. - Dogger Bank House, also has a unique personality throughout the story. With such unique and intriguing features, like a copper bath with various taps - some that bring in fresh water, and one that brings in seawater - it is the bridge that transcends time and enables the story to weave together. As truths are revealed and secrets are uncovered, the facade crumbles away, and life is errovocably changed for everyone involved. - 𝐀𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐃𝐨𝐠𝐠𝐞𝐫 𝐁𝐚𝐧𝐤, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦, 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐞𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐠𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐝𝐨𝐠 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫. 𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐛𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐜 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐥 𝐬𝐭𝐲𝐥𝐞, 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐝-𝐛𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤 𝐰𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐬 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐚𝐣𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐬𝐤𝐲. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐟 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝐨𝐟 𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐨𝐧𝐞, 𝐚 𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐞-𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐰 𝐬𝐚𝐭, 𝐬𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐠𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲-𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐫, 𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐥, 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐜𝐡. - Exploring themes of family, change, time and grief, The Unravelling is an emotional story, beautifully told and imagined by Crosby. The setting and whimsical beauty of the story has an almost dream-like, fairytale quality to it, with peacocks, pearls and butterflies woven throughout, and the gap between humans, animals, and the sea appearing closer than ever before. - (Continued in comments)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality The setting for The Women of Pearl Island is absolutely beautiful, totally fascinating, and stunning in its strange and hidden history. The secrets that the island keeps are explosive, but not nearly as explosive as those kept by Marianne Stourbridge as the story begins. The story is set in two timelines, the primary one in 2018, as the elderly Miss Stourbridge, the owner of the crumbling island of Dohhalund hires the grieving, escaping Tartelin Brown to ser Originally published at Reading Reality The setting for The Women of Pearl Island is absolutely beautiful, totally fascinating, and stunning in its strange and hidden history. The secrets that the island keeps are explosive, but not nearly as explosive as those kept by Marianne Stourbridge as the story begins. The story is set in two timelines, the primary one in 2018, as the elderly Miss Stourbridge, the owner of the crumbling island of Dohhalund hires the grieving, escaping Tartelin Brown to serve as her personal assistant, general factotum, and all around helper and housemate. As Tartelin explores the island, both on behalf of her employer and as part of her own increasing fascination with the mysterious locale, the story slips between Tartelin and Marianne’s somewhat fractious present to Marianne’s past growing up on the island that has been passed down through her mother’s family for generations. The island that Marianne Stourbridge now owns – at least what is left of it. There are secrets buried in Marianne’s past, lost offshore on the parts of the island that have fallen into the sea in the years since 1955. The year that all the residents of Dohhalund were evacuated from their homes by order of the British military. They claimed to be testing explosives and that it would be too dangerous for the civilian population to remain. Not that Marianne Stourbridge ever listened to what people in authority were telling her. Not now and certainly not then. Escape Rating B: The most compelling character in this timeslip story is Dohhalund itself, a fictitious island in the North Sea within sight of both the United Kingdom to whom it belongs and the Netherlands from which it gets much of its language – at least as related to food – and its customs. (Dohhalund is fictitious, but its geography and ecology are based on the real Orford Ness.) Something obviously happened in 1955 on the island, a catastrophic event that Marianne Stourbridge has returned to the island to prove. Based on her previous research, and on her requests to Tartelin, it is clear to the reader if not to Tartelin that what Marianne is searching for proof of is a secret nuclear test. The evidence is everywhere among the wildlife of the island. That the civilian population was evicted in 1955 and the island remained interdicted under military reserve for more than 50 years is a bit of a clue. Because the most compelling character in the story is the island itself, The Women of Pearl Island reads as more than a bit lit-ficcy. It seems like not a lot is happening, the story isn’t moving all that quickly, and not many of the characters are happy about much of anything. But it still sucks the reader in like the tide that surrounds the island. The part of the story that Tartelin is telling in 2018 feels like the stronger – or at least the more interesting – part of the book. Tartelin is still grieving the recent death of her mother, and she’s come to the island, to this strange, ambiguous job with this secretive and cantankerous old woman in order to get away from her grief and her memories – only to find herself dropped into the mystery of Marianne’s. But Marianne’s story of the pivotal years of her childhood is told from her perspective in 1928. Not her perspective ON 1928, but her perspective IN 1928. She was 15 at the time, cosseted, protected and privileged, and she is immature, selfish and self-absorbed. Not that we all aren’t at least some of that at 15 – and even later. But it does not make her a remotely likeable character. Tartelin, on the other hand, as frozen within herself as she arrives, is much more sympathetic. Her journey is one of reaching out and getting past, and it’s slow and sometimes hesitant, but she is getting there and it makes her the more dynamic of the two women. But not quite as dynamic as the island itself, and the strange, sad but ultimately magical tale of it that she discovers as part of her own journey.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    My thanks to HQ for an eARC and to HarperCollins U.K. Audio for a review copy of its unabridged audiobook edition, both via NetGalley, of ‘The Unravelling’ by Polly Crosby in exchange for an honest review. It is narrated by Katherine Press and has a running time of 11 hours, 9 minutes at 1x speed. While titled in the USA as ‘The Women of Pearl Island’, I rather prefer its U.K. title as it suggests the unravelling of mysteries. Following the death of her mother, Tartelin Brown is seeking a new sta My thanks to HQ for an eARC and to HarperCollins U.K. Audio for a review copy of its unabridged audiobook edition, both via NetGalley, of ‘The Unravelling’ by Polly Crosby in exchange for an honest review. It is narrated by Katherine Press and has a running time of 11 hours, 9 minutes at 1x speed. While titled in the USA as ‘The Women of Pearl Island’, I rather prefer its U.K. title as it suggests the unravelling of mysteries. Following the death of her mother, Tartelin Brown is seeking a new start. She responds to an advertisement: “PA required to assist lepidopterist. Must be able to start immediately. Must not be squeamish.” While she has no scientific background, Tartelin gains the position and travels to Dohhalund, a tiny island off the coast of East Anglia, to join the reclusive Marianne Stourbridge. The elderly woman, whose family had owned the island for hundreds of years, is wheelchair bound and has recently returned to the island to study its butterflies and moths seeking an answer to a mystery. However, as she is no longer able to capture specimens, she needs assistance; hence the ‘not squeamish’ requirement. The narrative unfolds over three timelines: in 2018, the novel’s present,1955, and 1927 where fifteen- year-old Marianne learns uncomfortable truths about her family and the island. I actually found it amazing as given these dates, Marianne was 106 years old! It is a novel that unfolds (or unravels) slowly and is focused upon the relationships between its characters. In addition to Tartelin and Marianne, there is Jacob, a university lecturer studying arachnids on the island, and Nan, another elderly woman who had been a mermaid (aka herring girl) in 1927. Like Marianne, Nan has recently returned after the army lifted the requisition it had imposed on the island since the mid-1950s. Mystery upon mystery! While scientific observation is a key theme, there is also a subtle quality linked to the lure of the sea, where traditional lore holds sway. Again, there are mysteries to be unravelled. In addition, Dohhalund, while fictional, is inspired by Orford Ness, which was under the control of the Ministry of Defence for decades and forbidden to the public. With respect to the audiobook, given the quality of Polly Crosby’s writing, with its lyrical descriptions, it is a novel very suited to the format on its own or as a combined read/listen. Katherine Press has an exquisite, polished voice and I have enjoyed her narration of a number of previous titles. Overall, I found ‘The Unravelling’ a beautifully written, atmospheric work of literary fiction. It is a novel that may appeal to reading groups that are looking for a novel that is contemplative in its myriad themes, which also includes loss and bereavement, yet remains an accessible read. Highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: The Women of Pearl Island Author: Polly Crosby Book Series: Standalone Rating: 3/5 Recommended For...: historical fiction, mystery Publication Date: December 7, 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction Recommended Age: 17+ (Animals Hurt, Animal Violence, Grief, Death, Romance) Explanation of CWs: The book starts with a butterfly getting its wing repaired and it’s in pain. The book focuses a lot on grief and death. There is Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: The Women of Pearl Island Author: Polly Crosby Book Series: Standalone Rating: 3/5 Recommended For...: historical fiction, mystery Publication Date: December 7, 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction Recommended Age: 17+ (Animals Hurt, Animal Violence, Grief, Death, Romance) Explanation of CWs: The book starts with a butterfly getting its wing repaired and it’s in pain. The book focuses a lot on grief and death. There is also some romance. Publisher: Park Row Pages: 352 Synopsis: Set on a secluded island off the British coast, The Women of Pearl Island is a moving and evocative story of family secrets, natural wonders and a mystery spanning decades. When Tartelin answers an ad for a personal assistant, she doesn't know what to expect from her new employer, Marianne, an eccentric elderly woman. Marianne lives on a remote island that her family has owned for generations, and for decades her only companions have been butterflies and tightly held memories of her family. But there are some memories Marianne would rather forget, such as when the island was commandeered by the British government during WWII. Now, if Marianne can trust Tartelin with her family's story, she might finally be able to face the long-buried secrets of her past that have kept her isolated for far too long. Review: So I was intrigued with this book because of the butterflies, but I should really read the synopses better lol. I did like the story for the most part and I felt like the characters were well developed. The plot of the story kept me intrigued in finding out the ending and I also feel like the writing fits the book well. However, I did not like the book a lot. The way the story was told was confusing for me and I was couldn’t connect to the characters. The writing is kind of flowery and I normally don’t like that. The world building was kind of everywhere as well and it was just not a book for me. Verdict: Not for me, but maybe for you.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Helen - Great Reads & Tea Leaves

    The Women of Pearl Island is a dual time narrative offering a well written mystery. What is on offer here is some special writing - Polly Crosby’s prose is atmospheric as she makes the island and its inhabitants come to life. Looking at it on a map on my phone, it had looked so small that I imagined you could walk its circumference in only a few hours. I had tried to picture what kind of an island it would be: a cold, hard rock grizzled with the droppings of thousands of seabirds, or a flat stre The Women of Pearl Island is a dual time narrative offering a well written mystery. What is on offer here is some special writing - Polly Crosby’s prose is atmospheric as she makes the island and its inhabitants come to life. Looking at it on a map on my phone, it had looked so small that I imagined you could walk its circumference in only a few hours. I had tried to picture what kind of an island it would be: a cold, hard rock grizzled with the droppings of thousands of seabirds, or a flat stretch of white sand, waiting for my footprints? Whatever it turned out to be, the isolation of it appealed to me. I have not read any of Polly’s writing before and was impressed by a style that draws in her readers. Her writing is such that the island itself becomes a character through vivid descriptions that allow the reader to feel present on its shores. The characters whilst engaging are, at times however, difficult to relate and fully empathise with. This may be attributed to Polly’s unique style that tends to be more sensory. As stated, the main attraction for me is the island - its setting and secrets. Metamorphosis. I think about how the tides move in cycles, washing the sand clean, removing any trace that anything was ever there. But sometimes - after a storm, or a spring tide, or a blast - the sea can deliver unexpected surprises, reveal things that everyone believed to be gone forever. " The plot is not this tale's strong point as this is more a setting and character driven tale. At times, the progress is slow. As a reader you must allow yourself to be immersed in the writing and visualisation. You must allow yourself to be swept away through words to the island amongst the flora and fauna, or, caught up in the mystery of the island and its inhabitants. I am wilting, everything I have seen today running and re-running across my eyes, and I wonder, just before sleep finds me, how long I will last on this strange and complicated isle. This is an emotional tale - things said and the things that remain silent and unspoken. It’s unique, it’s different and it's a definite experience. The Women of Pearl Island is about life and death, secrets and the sea. Closure may not be complete with Polly alluding to intrigue to the very end. Everything is just … metamorphosis,” she says croakily. I try to make sense of what she means. Is she talking about the island, about what has happened here since that fateful day? Or is it bigger than that? I put my hand briefly on hers, and we look out to sea together, marveling at its calm beauty. This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl M-M

    Marianne is crotchety solitary figure, who is bound to her home in both physical and an emotional way. The memories, experiences and relationships that lack the right kind of closure, which will allow her some peace, are destined to remain grains of dirt under her skin. Irritations that can be dismissed, but never quite forgotten. She has hired yet another young girl as an assistant to aid her in the accumulation of a variation of species, mainly butterflies, in order to examine and prove a theor Marianne is crotchety solitary figure, who is bound to her home in both physical and an emotional way. The memories, experiences and relationships that lack the right kind of closure, which will allow her some peace, are destined to remain grains of dirt under her skin. Irritations that can be dismissed, but never quite forgotten. She has hired yet another young girl as an assistant to aid her in the accumulation of a variation of species, mainly butterflies, in order to examine and prove a theory she is working on. Tarteline finds herself a little shell-shocked by her new residence and employer. Apparently living without the common comforts of a 21st century home and a wee bit like society over a century ago, is quite the norm on this peculiar and yet beautiful island. A story told over the span of Marianne’s lifetime, we encounter her as the curious child eager to be the apple of her father’s eye, the young woman coping with mistakes borne out of hurt pride, and the older woman filled with dreams and regrets. Can young Tarteline, who is still grieving her own loss, begin to understand her remarkable and demanding employer. I absolutely adored this book. Crosby is an amazing writer with an innate ability to create literary and storytelling magic, as she navigates emotions, nature, memories, trauma and the fragility of human relationships. I can only hope this book is recognised as the gem it is going forward. It will definitely be going on my best reads of ’22 list. I can’t wait to read whatever she comes up with next.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chapter Ichi

    Book review! Thank you @harlequinaus @polly_crosby for gifting me a copy of The Women of Pearl Island. The Women of Pearl Island - Polly Crosby The Women of Pearl Island is a mysterious and evocative dual timeline novel. Tartelin arrives on a peculiar and isolated island to work for Marianne Stourbridge. Marianne is a hermit who has employed Tartelin to hunt for butterflies on the island. Tartelin meets a few other people in her time there, although the majority of her time is spent exploring the Book review! Thank you @harlequinaus @polly_crosby for gifting me a copy of The Women of Pearl Island. The Women of Pearl Island - Polly Crosby The Women of Pearl Island is a mysterious and evocative dual timeline novel. Tartelin arrives on a peculiar and isolated island to work for Marianne Stourbridge. Marianne is a hermit who has employed Tartelin to hunt for butterflies on the island. Tartelin meets a few other people in her time there, although the majority of her time is spent exploring the rugged wilderness surrounding her. Polly Crosby's writing is appreciative of nature and atmospheric. I enjoyed the descriptions of the island and felt I was there. The characters are intriguing, yet the reader doesn't truly get to know them. I felt as though in a daze or a dream the entire time. Polly's style is unusual and dreamlike. The parts of the novel that held my interest most were the setting, history of the island, secrets held and how grief has affected both Marianne and Tartelin. Tartelin comes to the island after losing her mother. The characters are all interesting, including Jacob, Tartelin's friend and Nan, the silkworm expert who is introduced to the reader when Marianne is a child. The dual timeline gave further insight into Marianne's life and the island's history. As the novel unfolds the reader finds out more about the events in the past on the island. It is horrifying and changes the island in many ways. An emotional exploration of island life, as well as thoughts and feelings left unsaid. What a unique story that has stayed with me. ★★★★ #thewomenofpearlisland #pollycrosby #butterflies #australianreaders #bookstagram #booksbooksbooks #bibliophile #ilovereading #hqstories #chapterichi Www.instagram.com/chapter_ichi

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susan Ballard

    3.75 / 5 Polly Crosby has written such a haunting and eerie story through the lens of the natural world. Twenty-year-old Tartelin takes a position to assist Miss Stourbridge, a stern older woman living on a remote island. Miss Stourbridge’s family had lived on Dohhalund Island for generations until the military requisitioned it during WWII. Now Miss Stourbridge captures and dissects butterflies and moths on the island, but as Tartelin aids her, she wonders what Miss Stourbridge is hoping to find 3.75 / 5 Polly Crosby has written such a haunting and eerie story through the lens of the natural world. Twenty-year-old Tartelin takes a position to assist Miss Stourbridge, a stern older woman living on a remote island. Miss Stourbridge’s family had lived on Dohhalund Island for generations until the military requisitioned it during WWII. Now Miss Stourbridge captures and dissects butterflies and moths on the island, but as Tartelin aids her, she wonders what Miss Stourbridge is hoping to find among the wings and scales of these creatures. The story is unhurried, and there is not a strong central plot. As the narrative jumps between Tartelin in the present day and Miss Stourbridge in her youth, we slowly learn of these women’s lives, their grief, and the deep secrets of the island. I loved the atmospheric prose; it’s as if the island was a character all on its own. Thank you to @parkrowbooks and @harpercollins for a spot on tour and a gifted digital copy.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alexanderia

    A huge THANK YOU to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for this advanced reader copy!! I really enjoyed every moment of this book. A little mystery, a little love, a little sadness, a little hope, and the beautiful Ocean. I connected with the book in a love for the ocean, mermaid believing kind of way. I was on the journey with both women as they revealed their stories, their secrets, and their lives. I felt like the women completed each other and felt the bond they created during their sh A huge THANK YOU to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for this advanced reader copy!! I really enjoyed every moment of this book. A little mystery, a little love, a little sadness, a little hope, and the beautiful Ocean. I connected with the book in a love for the ocean, mermaid believing kind of way. I was on the journey with both women as they revealed their stories, their secrets, and their lives. I felt like the women completed each other and felt the bond they created during their short time together. There were many passages with just perfect writing and so thoughtful. “I imagine the molecules of my mother moving through the water away from me and out into the world, and it occurs to me that we’re not designed to stay in one place, rather to always reach for the unreachable, to stretch out our arms and touch the myriad possibilities laid out before us.” I love when a book gives a gentle reminder that we are meant to stretch ourselves past what we think we should and strive to see all the possibilities before us. A captivating story with people that feel real and the strength of the Ocean. “…the tides move in cycles, washing the sand clean, removing any trace that anything was ever there. But sometimes-after a storm, or spring tide, or a blast-the sea can deliver unexpected surprises, reveal things that everyone believed to be gone forever.” I couldn’t imagine a better ending leaving me with the magic of the sea in my heart and the never ending curiosity about what is out there in the deepest parts that no one has ever seen.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dan Bassett

    Tartelin needs a new start, an escape from the ghosts of her very recent past so when she sees an advertisement for a PA to a reclusive lepidopterist she wastes no time in leaving her old life behind and embarking on new beginnings and arrives on the isolated, haunting island of Dohhalund. Marianne Stourbridge is very much her own woman after having a childhood which she would sometimes rather forget and growing up surrounded by the promises of her own pearls and a secure future, but that is all Tartelin needs a new start, an escape from the ghosts of her very recent past so when she sees an advertisement for a PA to a reclusive lepidopterist she wastes no time in leaving her old life behind and embarking on new beginnings and arrives on the isolated, haunting island of Dohhalund. Marianne Stourbridge is very much her own woman after having a childhood which she would sometimes rather forget and growing up surrounded by the promises of her own pearls and a secure future, but that is all gone now for she lives in her run down and unloved family home where her only company is those of all the specimens she has caught and displayed along with her own thoughts and a clock that never seems to keep time… The island is one with a troubled past due to its location with it once being a test site for military experiments and this is why Marianne needs Tartelin to help capture and document what appears to be new species of butterflies that somehow seem to have mutated but as Tartelin will discover the reasons as to what lead this island to be desolated, perhaps she would have been better off staying trapped inside her old life as you learn about how Marianne has battled over the years with her family, the island and someone who she never expected to see again. But will either of them be successful at moving on or will the thread that seems to surround their lives just pull them tighter together until they are both forced to face the past whether they are willing to or not? From the author of The Illustrated Child comes something truly Atmospheric, haunting, fragile and unmissable: The Unravelling will capture your heart and keep it forever.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Rounding it down to 2.5 stars. Not sure where I received this from, but it was on my "to read." Not sure why. I was bored with all the butterflies and how they were killed. Marianne was the cantankerous old woman who lived on an island somewhere near England and hired Tartelin (I know a weird name and every time I read it, it drove me crazy), to not help her with her daily needs (she was wheelchair bound on the 2nd floor of her home) but with her butterflies. There were other things going on too Rounding it down to 2.5 stars. Not sure where I received this from, but it was on my "to read." Not sure why. I was bored with all the butterflies and how they were killed. Marianne was the cantankerous old woman who lived on an island somewhere near England and hired Tartelin (I know a weird name and every time I read it, it drove me crazy), to not help her with her daily needs (she was wheelchair bound on the 2nd floor of her home) but with her butterflies. There were other things going on too and Marianne was none too open with her life back in the 1950s. It kept going from present to past. All in all, I couldn't wait to finish it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Clean read. A little sow but beautifully written descriptive words. My only complaint is the unrealistic time line. Spans from 1927 to 2018 with the main character being 106 years old. With dates given my mind was distracted calculating ages 😂. Major dates given are 1928, 1955 and 2018. Would have been better suited as 1928, 1948, 2008. Other than that the story was nice, it picked up in the second half. It has nothing to do with WW2.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    Polly Crosby provides a superbly visual narrative that captures your interest right from the start. From the very beginning, I had that foreboding feeling that something odd and sinister was going on. The descriptions of the island and the butterflies reminded me just how fragile our environment is but yet how strong the ability to survive through change can be. I felt that all the characters stayed true right to the end and that the conclusions for each were appropriate. Also enjoyed each chara Polly Crosby provides a superbly visual narrative that captures your interest right from the start. From the very beginning, I had that foreboding feeling that something odd and sinister was going on. The descriptions of the island and the butterflies reminded me just how fragile our environment is but yet how strong the ability to survive through change can be. I felt that all the characters stayed true right to the end and that the conclusions for each were appropriate. Also enjoyed each character’s growth and the lasting friendships that developed between the unlikeliest pairs.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Diane Gladstone

    Tartelin is hired by an elderly woman who lives on her family's island. The story tells the story of the woman, Marianne, and her life as a child growing up on the island and the story of her family. Well written novel which while unlocking family secrets also pulls the reader in. Tartelin is hired by an elderly woman who lives on her family's island. The story tells the story of the woman, Marianne, and her life as a child growing up on the island and the story of her family. Well written novel which while unlocking family secrets also pulls the reader in.

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