The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley, published by Penguin ticks all of my favourites in a book. It's a story told in a dual time narrative, it's a story of family relationships, it's a romance and at times it's a tragedy. With almost 450 pages in the paperback edition, it's a hefty read but I found myself flying through it.
There are three main female characters; Aurora - the Girl on the Cliff; Grania - the modern-day heroine and Mary, who was Grania's Great-Grandmother.
Grania has fled her life in New York after a miscarriage, she is back home in Ireland on the family farm and meets eight year old Aurora one day as she is taking a walk. Aurora is a strange, mysterious child - friendly and warm, yet older than her years and very lonely.
As Grania and Aurora's friendship grows, Grania's mother becomes more and more uneasy. There is old history between the two families - things that have happened long ago that cannot be forgiven, yet Aurora is a bewitching child and soon wins over the hardest of hearts.
The story then goes back and forth, revealing the past deeds that have shaped the family as it is today.
The story, the writing and the characters reminded me so much of books by some of my favourite authors; the Harte series from Barbara Taylor-Bradford, the family dynasty tales by Penny Vincenzi and the dramatic family relationships that Lesley Pearse writes so well.
I am delighted to be able to add Lucinda Riley to this stable of wonderful favourite authors. I had a very tiny criticism of some of the dialogue between Grania's family members, I though the 'Irishness' was a little overdone at times, but that's forgiven as I loved the story so much.