From the bestselling author of The Firebird, comes a new, exquisitely crafted novel of modern-day and historical intrigue.
For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread-its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal’s cipher. But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal’s reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn't hold the secrets Sara expects.
It turns out that Mary Dundas wasn’t keeping a record of everyday life, but a first-hand account of her part in a dangerous intrigue. In the first wintry months of 1732, with a scandal gaining steam in London, driving many into bankruptcy and ruin, the man accused of being at its center is concealed among the Jacobites in Paris, with Mary posing as his sister to aid his disguise. When their location is betrayed, they’re forced to put a desperate plan in action, heading south along the road to Rome, protected by the enigmatic Highlander Hugh MacPherson.
As Mary’s tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take…to find the road that will lead her safely home.
Susanna Kearsley is a New York Times, USA TODAY, and Globe and Mail bestselling author and former museum curator who loves restoring the lost voices of real people to the page, interweaving historical intrigue with modern suspense. Her books, published in translation in more than twenty countries, have won the Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, a RITA Award, and National Readers’ Choice Awards, and have finaled for the UK’s Romantic Novel of the Year and the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel. She lives near Toronto. Visit her at SusannaKearsley.com or follow her on Twitter @SusannaKearsley.
“Within a few paragraphs, you realize you are in the hands of a master storyteller: Kearsley’s novels are accessible but challenging, narratively propulsive but thoughtful. […]This is smart historical fiction which isn’t afraid to assume the best of its readers.”
“Gorgeously romantic! One of the best books I’ve read this year!”
“Her prose is beautifully crafted and evocative of character, time and place.”
“A new Susanna Kearsley novel is always a cause for rejoicing—and for turning off the ringer on the phone and canceling all appointments.”
“Susanna Kearsley is a nothing less than a magician weaving together the past and the present in yet another marvelous, genre bending, romantic, mysterious, and utterly unputdownable novel. You’ll be captivated by the history, the secrets, the memorable heroines, and one of the cutest dogs to show up on the pages in a long time. Kearsley raises the bar book to book, and this is one of her most ambitious and successful ever. Bravo!”
“A Desperate Fortune educates as it entertains, and manages to be wonderfully romantic at the same time.”
“Fascinating, immersive and twisty—twists not only of plot, but of character and time. I love a novel that deals with codes and ciphers, and the other ways in which people keep their secrets.”
“In A Desperate Fortune, Susanna Kearsley has conjured a story that will stay with you long after you put it down. Her deft touch with historical intrigue is matched only by her delivery of a contemporary heroine who is as unique as she is memorable.”