‘Curiosity is a crafty thing, a devious entity.’
The Seminary, an iconic building in Hunters Hill, Sydney. Designed for the Catholic Church in 1877, vacant since 1970, and now in need of complete restoration. The novel opens in 1990 when the building is bought by Richard and Gordana Lemann, a wealthy couple with plans to transform the building into a modern family home. Next door, in what was once the caretaker’s cottage, lives Marcela Beauregarde. Gordana has grandiose plans for The Seminary, and wants the transformation filmed. Gordana also wants to acquire Marcela’s cottage.
Marcela is not going anywhere. She has her own connection to The Seminary and its secrets. And, over the course of the novel, those secrets will be revealed. It’s difficult to write much about this novel without introducing spoilers. The story itself is complicated and convoluted, with more than a few twists. There are quite a few characters to try to keep track of and, for me at least, some of their actions seemed inexplicable. I ended up reading the novel twice (which helped), as did reading Ms Fedele’s first novel ‘The Red Door’. While the two novels contain separate stories, several of the characters from ‘The Red Door’ appear in ‘The Legacy of Beauregarde’ and the ending of ‘The Legacy of Beauregarde’ made more sense to me after reading ‘The Red Door’.
If you like complicated story lines, moving from one point of view to another, involving characters with dark secrets, you may enjoy this novel. There are quite a few melodramatic flourishes as well. As with her first novel, Ms Fedele has included some of her own magnificent drawings, of characters or aspects of the setting.
While I didn’t enjoy this novel quite as much as ‘The Red Door’, the ending ensures that I really want to see a third novel to tie up at least some of the loose ends.
Note: My thanks to Ms Fedele for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.