This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Small Publisher
Released on August 8, 2016
A discovery amongst her grandfather’s things sends a woman on a journey through the past that leads to a danger in the present.
I seem to have been drawn this year to stories with split time lines featuring a person in the present and a person in the past during the war years. I believe this is my fourth one. However, this was my first one with a WWI backdrop. War is always hell. No doubt. However, the trench warfare and massive losses of that series of battles is horrific and staggering. And that doesn’t take into consideration those who survived it and were never the same. I found getting the split perspectives of a soldier during that time and his granddaughter in the present to be equally engaging.
Grace Hansen is a middle-aged woman with a successful career, two wonderful sons, and a good home life until her husband wants a divorce. This decision forces her to look about her and reassess her life. But the catalyst that really brings change is when she is clearing out all that her husband left behind and comes across a box in the attic that her grandfather left with her before he died. She was raised by her grandparents when her father died and her mother fell apart. Her grandmother was strict and cold to her, but her grandfather was everything. Finding the box with some old war effects and his war diaries along with a cryptic note about regret and wanting Grace to to solve his riddle and finish his task sets her on quite the soul-searching journey.
Martin signs up and is soon shipped across the Atlantic and into war with his three close friends. As junior officers, they all must keep their men heartened and alive as best as possible. It is not long before Martin sees the gross ineptitude of the leadership and he and his men pay the price. Mired in the trenches and counting victory and defeat by the yard, his hope is extinguishing. Losses of friends and men snuff it out completely until he meets Cynthia.
Grace follows the path of her grandfather from battle to battle over the same terrain hoping something will speak to her. What does he regret and what does he want to fix? She ponders this as she realizes that she is being followed and also encounters a handsome Frenchman who shows an interest and makes her feel like a desired woman again.
As I mentioned earlier, this story is split time line. Grace narrates the contemporary portion. There are excerpts from Martin’s diary and also portions where Martin narrates the historical portion. The story is a cross between women’s fiction, romantic suspense, and historical. I liked how the author brought together all three elements.
The war is not sugar-coated in either time line. I did enjoy that there is a broader focus to the story. All the places Grace visited were described so well that I felt I was there from the points of interest, the food, the hotels, and even the life of the people. Her handsome Frenchman was urbane and knowledgeable about food, art, and history so they had wonderful times together.
The mystery is the catalyst driving Grace’s pursuit of truth, but the suspense of who is trailing her and why slowly build momentum to a startling finish. Most of the story takes it’s time, but then starts hurdling faster and faster near the end.
In the end, Grace has been on a journey of self-discovery and I loved seeing it happen as she worked out her grandfather’s final request. This was a lovely story and I can easily recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction, light romantic suspense and women’s fiction with a touch of romance.
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.