A contemporary romance with undertones of medieval history and a spiritual twist, woven with ancient Welsh mythology and timeless Irish humour. 'The 49th Day' is the first in a trilogy of novels weaving together the past, present and future lives of Katherine Walsh and the powerful men who seek to control her. Based around the Buddhist notion of reincarnation, the story unfolds to reveal the events of the first seven weeks of her unexpected pregnancy. Coincidences in her past and present lives become clear as she grapples with the current stranglehold on her life and contemplates her future as the custodian of the soul of her unborn child.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
After escaping a disastrous marriage, Katherine Walsh travels to an island retreat in Wales in order to pick up the pieces of her life, relax and decide future direction. However, rest and recreation isn't all she discovers. During therapy sessions her ancient past is unlocked and odd happenings that have haunted her for years start to make sense. Katherine also realises that it may be to her benefit to learn how to trust a man again but the chance of love isn't her biggest surprise. She appears to be pregnant so any decisions she makes about her future must include the new life within her.
Lawyer, psychologist and author Helen Noble wowed us with her debut novel Tears of a Phoenix which sympathetically examined a lad's slide into criminality. Now in this, her second novel, she steps away from her legal system day job completely.
Actually The 49th Day is a complete leap away from the legal profession. It's also deftly seasoned with New Age spirituality but in a way that isn't intrusive, ensuring that even Reiki avoiders like me can enjoy it. There's just enough to form a framework and an ethereal feeling (assisted by Welsh mythological sprinkles and the mysticism of the Irish) as Katherine escapes a dangerously demanding husband and tries to come to terms with the imprints that the past has left on her present.
This is Helen's cue to provide us with some fascinating historical vignettes as Katherine is regressed back to her Celt/Norman roots. Again, Helen has been clever concentrating on Katherine's past stories rather than the regression itself so, once more, unbelief doesn't obstruct the suspension of disbelief. In this way we're thrown back to the middle ages to answer a query raised in our minds during the prologue (skip it at your peril!) and then, by quirk of oddity, even thrown forward for an enticing glimpse of Katherine's future. She's a highly likeable lass so we empathise and engage with gusto.
The romantic element isn't a surprise, the suspense based around how it will turn out rather than who it's with. That doesn't matter though as Fin is an Irish charmer with a twinkle despite facing problems of his own. Will the family feud with his brother wreck everything he's been working for? He also learns that there are inherent dangers and unexpectedly unfinished business linked with going home.
Helen isn't only able to rattle off an affable character; she has a great eye for detail that made me somewhat curious at one stage. There's talk of the renovation of a Wexford Engineering Drill Plough with double moulding boards. Why the specificity? I'm sure if we'd just been told that it was a drill plough we'd have been just as happy but I appreciate the above-and-beyond conviction with which Helen approaches her task. (Of course, it may have a significance that will be revealed later?)
For those who are drawn by spirituality, you won't be disappointed. The novel's structure is divided into Katherine's first seven weeks of pregnancy. (Yes, we're the first to know!) This means that the book finishes on the 49th day as per the title which has an even greater meaning. This is the day in Buddhist tradition on which the soul leaves the body after death. I'm not going to spoil the end so we'll just say that this has various connotations.
Having said that, the end isn't really the end. No, I'm not going all philosophical; this is indeed just the beginning as Katherine's story will develop into a trilogy. The idea of tandem-ing a love story and the desire to escape the past with reincarnation and regression is intriguing. I'm guessing that escape under these circumstances will be a little more difficult than usual for one thing. Indeed Helen seems to have set herself a challenge and I for one am eager to see how it all turns out.
(Thank you to Soul Rocks for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: It goes without saying we're going to recommend Helen's Tears of a Phoenix. ~ Ani Johnson, TheBookbag.co.uk