Yet again Lucinda Riley has created and weaved a story which has you gripped from the beginning to the end. You have to keep reading, you have to know what happens you have to know if love will conquer all, if war will end, if all wrongs will be righted and that the light will shine again from behind the window where it has been hiding for many years of the main characters.
Emilie de la Martinieres is there when her glamorous mother draws her final breath. As the end comes, Emilie realises what a task she now has to face, as the sole remaining heir she has to sort a flat in Paris, her mother’s jewels and other remnants of her famous and glamorous life as well as the Chateau in the south of France, which her mother hated, but Emilie loved as a child when her father was alive.
The Chateau holds memories good and bad, and as Emilie discovers these she also discovers something of the past which has an immediate effect on the future. The reader goes on an emotional rollercoaster with Emilie, as it seems all is suddenly well with the sudden appearance of Sebastian Carruthers, an Englishman visiting the south of France because of a family tale from his grandmother. For Emilie suddenly life is going to be easy and full of light and love. Then everything builds to the top and most highest point of the rollercoaster, emotions are running high and the descent is rather fast and makes her relook at all she has. Does she need to once again reassess all that is left behind?
Constance Carruthers is a young married woman, whose husband is missing in action. Not wanting to be idle, Constance goes to do some war work as an office clerk. However, something about Constance stands out and she is one of the few selected to the SOE (Special Operations Executive) and after fierce and extraordinary training she is landed in France, and has to make it to Paris to help the Resistance in Vichy France. However, contact is not easy and she is suddenly all alone in a foregin country, under an assumed name with no hope of ever returning home in the immediate future. It is a case of fight or flight. Constance chooses to fight and finds herself placed in the most extraordinary position in the house of Edouard de la Martinieres. Not how she envisaged spending the war.
Here the past and the present collide in Lucinda’s story as they have done in her previous novels and is a skill will she handles effectively with ease and no obvious break with the story. Edouard is Emilie’s father. Sebastian is Constance’s grandson. So the links are complete. All you need to do now is sit back and enjoy the story, it captures you, it shines light in your heart, and it turns the pages long into the night.
The author has a skill in drawing you right into the characters lives so much so that you experience all that they do and just as you think you know the outcome or the next stage in their development, it is shifted again. A veritable tease in some ways a good skill of holding the reader’s attention in others. I did not want this book to end, it could have been double the size and I still would have wanted to learn more about both the past and the present.
If you are looking for a story, perhaps something old fashioned but something with history, romance, big domineering houses that are as good as characters, conflict and resolution, love and loss, prejudice in race, in class then this book will tick all the boxes. Therefore buy it, read it and enjoy it.
Thank you to Sophie at Midas PR for sending me a copy of this book for review. Even greater thanks go to the wonderful Lucinda Riley who wrote this book and previous ones, Hothouse Flower and The Girl on the Cliff. All three of them are such good reads.
I find the books such a joy to read that they have so many layers, in particular this one, they are quite difficult to review,so much is packed in you get so much per page, per chapter. Sometimes books like this are best left as word of mouth, as to review it fully could spoil it for so many more. The words from this mouth, are to go and read it.
Before I picked this book up, I had read some rather poor books and really needed some solitary comfort with a novel. This book provided it. It also gave my history brain a good old wake up as I know very little about the SOE and now certainly want to learn more.
I have no idea where Lucinda Riley is going to take us with her next book, although her books have dual story lines, a past and a present, they are not similar in any other way. Vastly different places, locations, subjects and characters mean you really do not know where you are going to go next.