This is Historical Fiction novel that reads as more of a mystery than history. It is by Beatriz Williams, and apparently she has written previous novels about some of the characters in this story. I have not read any of them which could be why I am confused by the epilogue. It was recommended that I read A Certain Age by her before this one….well…I did not do that.
I will tell you that I did enjoy this book…the beginning was a bit slow, but it eventually picked up and I read the last 200 pages in one afternoon. It is about a strong woman named Virginia who is an ambulance driver in WWI in France, and it is there that she meets mysterious and handsome Captain Simon Fitzwilliams. The two fall in love and have a passionate affair. Yet they both have secrets from their past….some serious secrets that create tragedy to their eventual marriage and birth of their daughter.
Five years later, and they are living in America. Virginia and her daughter are in NYC while Simon is in Florida running several businesses. The pair become estranged for 3 years when Simon is suddenly killed in a fire. Virginia travel south to deal with the details of the death and the businesses she will inherit. Enter Samuel and Clara Fitzwilliams…Simon’s siblings. They welcome her with open arms, and yet Virginia senses something is off….something is not quite right. The more she questions, the more dangerous her situation becomes.
Two brave women’s lives are entwined after World War II: 1947. Charlie St. Clair’s mother drags her over to England to discreetly take care of her “Little Problem”, but Charlie has other plans. She breaks free to discover what happened to her cousin…her best friend Rose. She has been told that Rose died during the war, but Charlie does not believe this to be the truth and is determined to rescue her cousin. She has one lead: a woman name Evelyn Gardiner.
She finds Evelyn. Eve is a mean, bitter drunk who threatens to shoot Charlie once she arrives, but as soon as Eve utters the words Le Lethe, she puts the gun down. She agrees to help her. Together with Finn Kilgore (who is quite the handsome mystery and their driver) they embark on an adventure that reaches back to WWI when Eve was part of The Alice Network and worked as a female spy. Back when betrayal broke apart the group and ruined lives forever.
Both Eve, Charlie, and Finn are looking for things….a cousin, a place, a man, revenge….what they discover along the way is more than they could have imagined. The characters in this book are so wonderful and I would follow their stories anywhere. Yet it is not the places that they took me that I loved…it was them. Their strength, their love, their devotion, their decision not to follow social norms of the time and be their own people. And in the end, they discover friendship and love….maybe the answers they uncover were not what they quite thought they would be, but in life and adventure it is never has it is planned.
Hallie Ephron writes stories that command your attention until the end. I picked this up and read until I had to put it down…I had to find out what happened to Janey. Lis was a 7 year-old little girl when she was playing in the yard with her 4 year-old sister, Janey. Lis sees a little dog and chases it into the woods, and her sister is left alone and ultimately disappears. Lis is now in her 40s with her own daughter, and she has been living with her mother for quite a while. Janey’s disappearances has effected them for decades.
Here is the creepy part, Miss Sorrel, Lis and Janey’s mother, is a doll maker. She makes porcelain dolls in the likeness of a child who keeps the daughter….made with that child’s hair. One day, a woman appears to Miss Sorrel with an old doll that looks just like Janey…..could this has been the doll that Janey had when she disappeared? If it is the doll, where is Janey and what happened to her?
The story unfolds quickly, and Miss Sorrel and Lis realize they are in danger as they get closer to discovering what has happened to Janey.
Quick, easy read. A few flaws with the characters, but nothing that gets in the way with the story. Well-worth the read!