Published by: William Morrow
Published on: May 22, 2012
Page Count: 464
My Reading Format: ARC sent to me from the publisher for consideration.
Available Formats: Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook
Cat Morley wants more from this world than what a life living in service to the upper class can provide. She eventually gets involved with the growing women’s suffrage movement, which unfortunately lands her in jail. Meanwhile, Hester, the new wife of the Reverend Albert Canning, needs a maid and finds that hiring Cat would be good on many levels. Employing Cat will take her away from London and her temptations while she and her husband will get the satisfaction of rehabilitating a lost soul while paying less for her services than for another maid. Hester is a naïve soul and employing Cat helps to take her mind off of her marital concerns. She and her husband have not yet consummated their relationship and she wants desperately to become a mother. Her husband’s passion, it seems lies in the theoretical. When he begins to neglect his duties at the local parish in order to study theosophy, Hester becomes quite concerned, especially when he invites a lecturer of theosophy, Robin Durrant, to stay in their home for as long as he likes. Cat picks up on the unusual set up of the marriage as she tests her boundaries. Confined spaces are most intolerable to her and it doesn’t take long before she starts exploring the grounds and the surrounding areas at night. It is there that she finds purpose in life, but it costs her dearly.
The Unseen was an excellent read. I enjoyed almost everything about it. I loved the setting and its time in history. I’ve never heard of theosophy and I enjoyed how it added to the sense that something was not quite right in the Rectory. I was equally interested in Cat’s issues that resulted from her time spent incarcerated as much as I did Hester’s marital problems. The main characters from 1911 were all well developed and I loved the little quirks that kept them off balance. At first, the sections of the novel set in the modern day were a distraction to me. It took well over half of the book before I warmed up to Leah and her search for the identity of the unknown British soldier found in Europe. I think I would have been just as happy in the end if the novel was entirely set in 1911, but I did find that Leah’s story toward the end worked well to increase and maintain the suspense that was building.
I began reading The Unseen in reading slump. This didn’t impact my enjoyment of this novel at all. It just took me longer to read it. By the last quarter of the book, my slump felt over because I didn’t want to put the book down. I had to know what happened. Elements of Katherine Webb’s storytelling reminded me of Tracy Chevalier, especially Falling Angels. Despite my lukewarm feelings toward the modern day angle in the book, I loved reading The Unseen. I look forward to more of Katherine Webb’s work in the future.
I read this book as part of the R.I.P. challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.