I realized going over my Goodreads’s list of books I read last year that I read very few books released in 2019. I only read nine total books published in 2019, and only seven of those I actually read in 2019. So my convoluted and probably confusing point is, I want to read more books published in 2020 this year. This is my second book so far, and both books haven’t broken two stars so far on Goodreads for me…let’s hope that changes.
My point is, I didn’t like this book, for many reasons. This is rare for me, because it sounded like a book I would love. It interweaves the tale of three women in different eras, and it’s a historical novel blended with mystery. I should have loved it! And yet I didn’t…quite the contrary.
Release: Jan. 14, 2020
Page Count: 448
Synopsis: France, 1914. Aurelie is the daughter of a titled French noble and finds her house occupied by German soldiers after war breaks out. She slowly begins to fall for one of the German soldiers. France, 1942. Daisy Villon lives in what remains Paris under German occupation, and finds herself drawn into the Resistance by a handsome English spy. France, 1964. Babs Langford is haunted by the lover of her recently deceased husband, a Resistance fighter known as La Fleur, whom he met during the war. Now she goes to Paris to learn the truth of her husband and the women he loved.
I should have liked this book, and yet everything it tried to do failed for me. It tried to blend three eras together in France, and yet it felt disjointed and confusing to follow because of the jumps. It talks about extremely harsh times in French history, and yet has this ability to feel shallow and low stakes. It tried to show moving romances within the dangers of war, but instead felt predictable and stereotypical. Just every aspect this book tried to pull off failed for me, which is sad because I’ve enjoyed Lauren Willig’s books for years, and I’ve heard great things about Beatriz Williams (I hadn’t heard of Karen White going into this book).
The main and biggest issue I had with this book I should have known would be an issue just from the synopsis, but I went in with hope. That is that the story blends three different eras with one perspective each. It seems a popular thing in historical fiction books to have two perspectives, a modern and historical one. You see it in The Address by Fiona Davis, The Life She Was Given by Marie Ellen Wiseman, and The Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig herself (and those are just a few examples of books I’ve read). And some of these are more effective than others. Often they all go the same route, as the modern (or more modern) characters attempting to find out something about the past and learning about the characters from the earlier timeline. I’ve liked some of these books, while others I haven’t.
But most of these types of books have only two main perspectives they jump back and forth from. And often times, my main two complaints with these books are that it feels jumpy as the perspective goes between two different stories and that often times one perspective is a lot more interesting than another. With this book, there are three perspectives, only one of which ever was really interesting to me. That’s pretty bad when I automatically disliked two-thirds of the book.
Babs’s perspective in the 1960’s didn’t add anything to the story except for the last chapter or two. Aurelie’s perspective was pointless except for one chapter which gave important information to Daisy’s storyline. Even Daisy’s perspective, which was the only one I was even a bit interested in, was pretty slow. Most of the story revolves around the romances the three women experience, steering away from much of the darkness of war and any type of conflict. When the majority of conflict in your book is “will they, won’t they,” you’re doing something wrong.
Saying that, the ending did a pretty good job closing all the stories, but a decent ending does not make up for the over 400 pages of mostly pointlessness.
I have read a few fiction books which are set in WWII, and this one goes by far at the bottom of the list.
I seem to be writing a lot of rant reviews recently…sorry about that. Have you read this book? Or does it look interesting to you? What is your opinion on various timelines? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,