• Title: The Settlement
  • Author: Ruth Kirby-Smith
  • Publisher: 2QT Limited on February 15, 2021
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Pages: 264
  • Formats Available: Paperback & Digital
  • Rating: 4/5

Trigger Warnings: Murder, Alzheimer’s

Many thanks to Grace Pilkington Publicity and Ruth Kirby-Smith for providing me with a digital PDF copy of The Settlement with a request for an honest review.

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The Settlement Blurb

We all have secrets. And perhaps it’s time for Sarah’s to come out.

It’s 1984 and Olivia is returning home for her grandmother Sarah’s funeral. Sarah was a loving matriarch in small Irish village Lindara, so why would someone spit at her coffin? When Olivia finds Sarah’s red leather notebook, she unearths the secret her grandmother took to her grave…

In 1910 Sarah promises her anti-home rule husband Theo that she’ll keep her free thinking, suffragette views to herself. But one night Sarah finds she’s drawn into something which compromises her principles. Later, when Theo gets dementia, he pesters Sarah about something called ‘The Settlement’. She’s mystified, but on opening a letter all is revealed. As the truth unfolds, we watch as Sarah is faced with an impossible decision – will she protect her stepson or her unborn child?

Based on the story of her father’s childhood, Ruth Kirby-Smith has delved deep into both Irish history and her family history. Like Olivia, Ruth leaves no stone unturned in the search for the truth. Vivid, gripping and powerful, The Settlement makes the reader question what they’d do in Sarah’s situation.

My Review

The Settlement is a semiautobiographical historical novel about what it means to be a family. Ruth Kirby-Smith pens a thrilling tale that follows a heartbroken young girl through her life and the choices she makes. 

Sarah is fiercely independent, even from a young age. When her first love breaks her heart, she becomes ruthless. She worms her way into an older man’s good opinion and then helps him run his business entities. But, danger comes along in the form of conflicting politics. Everything stemming from this initial danger comes full circle by the end of the novel.

The Irish backdrop for this story is glorious. I can see the loughs and the lush green of the hills surrounding the small village where Sarah lives her life. The river is a picture in my mind that seems so real that I could feel the cool water as I read. The hotel, the homes, and the rutted roads are so clear. Kirby-Smith has a very descriptive style that made my heart sing.

However, I didn’t like Sarah very much. At times she was selfish and a bit snobby. I lost all respect for her when she chose the fate of her son, sired from an adulterous relationship. I understand the decision and might even condone the reasons behind it, but that was when she lost me.

I enjoyed reading this book and found it entertaining. For this reason, I award The Settlement 4 out of 5 stars. I chose to read this book because I love Ireland. I always like to take the opportunity to learn more about places I’ve never been. So, if you are a fan of historical novels, I can vouch that this is a good one.

About the Author – Ruth Kirby-Smith

Ruth Kirby-Smith grew up in N Ireland and studied politics at Queen’s University during the civil rights era. She completed a Masters in City Planning and worked in Stormont and London.

In 1978 she joined a team at Cambridge University undertaking research into the regeneration of the inner city. When her children were born, she took time out and set up a business designing and selling baby products, which she ran successfully for the next thirty years.

Now retired she lives in Leeds with her husband and enjoys travelling, reading, writing, golf, tennis and spending time with her grandchildren.

The Settlement Website

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