And it should be no surprise that I enjoyed the historical novel The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley, which is the July She Reads Book Club Selection.
The Firebird begins in contemporary London. The protagonist, Nicola, works for an art dealer that specializes in Russian masterpieces. When a woman brings a wooden firebird into the office for an appraisal, Nicola touches the heirloom and sees far more history than any certificate of authentication could provide. She witnesses Russian Empress Catherine the Great giving the carved bird to a young woman named Anna. But Nicola can’t talk to her boss about the vision and help the firebird’s owner without revealing her psychic gift. She entreats her ex-boyfriend, Rob, to help learn more about Anna and the firebird because Rob knows and shares Nicola’s psychic abilities.
Kearsley uses the device of psychometry–the ability some psychics have to uncover the history of an object by making physical contact with that object (thanks, Wikipedia)–to traverse the divide between the stories of modern-day Nicola and 18th century Anna. In television terms, you might think of The Firebird as “Antiques Roadshow” meets “Long Island Medium,” but with exiled British soldiers, Russian tsars and a patient policeman with a thick Scottish accent.
I discovered after reading The Firebird that the novel continues the storylines of characters from at least two of Kearsley’s previous books. The Firebird is a fine standalone book, so don’t feel like you have to do any required reading before cracking its cover. If anything, I’m now interested in reading Kearsley’s other books to enrich my understanding of the Moray family and the history of the Jacobites.
On Thursday, you’re invited to join a live Twitter chat with Kearsley and many of the members of the She Reads Blog Network. I’ve been told there will be multiple giveaways for participants, so be sure to follow the #srchat hashtag beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern / 7 p.m. Central, or visit the She Reads Twitter chat page.