The Vanished Days
Momma Leighellen's Book Review

“How do you ken which men are good?” asks Lily. “You ken them by their actions, not by what ye might hear said of them. Ye watch what someone does when it will gain them nothing. Then ye’ll ken his truest heart.” – The Vanished Days

I have read and loved every one of Susanna Kearlsey’s novels, from The Winter Sea to Bellewether, she has captivated me with her detailed historical fiction that comes alive off the page.  It was a no brainer to choose her latest book, The Vanished Days, as our #mommaleighellensbookclub pick for October.  I devoured it in two sittings, despite the book density of 400+ pages. Whenever I read her books I become so fully immersed I lose all track of time and place. 

The stunning story is set in 1707 Scotland and follows the tale of a young woman named Lily trying to receive her inheritance after the death of her sailor husband.  There is no record of their marriage and she must prove her relationship to a commissioner reviewing her claim.  The book alternates between present history and her early years. Orphaned at a young age, Lily had to learn to rely on the help of others to survive, not always in the best way. 

“It is no small thing, Hope.  Without it, darkness wins.  Sometimes, when all seems darkness and despair, hope is the only thing that remains for us to grasp.” 


The book intricately highlights the tensions of the times – from religious differences to social class hierarchy and women’s rights.  Susanna also shows the beauty in found family. It always amazes me how I can see glimpses of our current situations in these historical reads. It’s a good reminder that history repeats itself and if we’re patient, we too will get through it. And that if we are good and kind, our efforts will be rewarded. 

“I’d fought too many men of different faiths to think that men were any different when they bled, or that the God they prayed to at the end was truly any different from my own.” 

If you are a die hard historical fiction lover, this book will hit all the highs – location, mystery, romance, and friendship.  If you love Phillipa Gregory books and the tensions between the Catholics and Protestants, this is a book for you! And while this book is technically a prequel to The Winter Sea (same family, earlier generation) you don’t need to read that book to understand this one. This book reminded me of all the reasons I love this genre.

“I think often of the vanished days – the ones that are behind us that we cannot live again – and how we wished it might be possible to make the clock run backward so we could live those days a second time, and live them better.” 

What’s Next?

You can pick up a copy of the book here.  To read more of my reviews, check out the rest of my blog.  To enter the latest giveaways and see what I’m currently reading, head to my Bookstagram account in IG.  And to listen to me chat all things bookish and share my latest reviews, head to my Booktube Channel. To try the book on audio go here!


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