What happens when a girl meets a man who has been alive for centuries?
Stella, who calls herself “Spark,” takes an internship with an attractive man who lives in an odd, secluded mansion in England. Her job is to organize old journals written in a cipher that she cannot read. Her employer, John Stone, lives rather mysteriously with a housekeeper, Martha, and a groundskeeper, Jacob, who both behave oddly. Martha seems unfamiliar with electricity and cooks on a woodstove. Joseph acts with constant hostility toward Spark. The book alternates between Spark’s story and John Stone’s diaries. Readers learn early that Stone, although he still looks young, is nearly 350 years old and moved at the age of 15 to Louis XIV’s court in 1685, becoming a confidant of the king and falling in love with Isabelle, a girl who seemed forever out of his reach. John Stone’s story, in his earlier identity as Jean-Pierre, works well as a separate narrative, involving intricate court intrigues that can have severe consequences for himself and for Isabelle. Spark’s story is less successful, seeming almost pointless until she finds a connection between herself and Stone very late in the book. Although the book seems nearly as lengthy as Stone’s life (only one, despite the title), Buckley-Archer paints an absorbing portrait of the court of Versailles.
Good historical fiction with a paranormal twist. (Paranormal historical fiction. 12-18)