Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Book review of When We Were Brave by Suzanne Kelman

French Village Diaries book review When We Were Brave Suzanne Kelman Bookouture #BooksOnTour
When We Were Brave Suzanne Kelman

When We Were Brave by Suzanne Kelman Book Description:

The face of the woman in the photograph was tilted upwards, as if enjoying the sunshine just for a moment, even as the wreckage of the bombed-out street lay behind her…

1944, Cornwall: Blinded by love, Vivienne Hamilton eloped to Paris with a Nazi prisoner-of-war, never to be seen again. A disgrace to her family, her name would not be mentioned by any of her relatives for over 75 years.

Present day, London: When Sophie discovers a photograph of her great aunt Vivi from World War Two, it throws her into a world of confusion. Because, as she learns about this secret relative, she quickly realises that the photograph doesn’t fit with her family’s story. It shows Vivi leaving an address associated with a spy network in London – a place she had no reason to be – and it is dated right before she disappeared.

Meanwhile Sophie’s own life feels as blasted and bombed as the blitzed city in the photograph she’s looking at. Her beautiful daughter – as full of joy and wild energy as Vivi had apparently once been – is gone; and Sophie’s heart has been left broken into pieces.

Retreating to the family home in rural Cornwall to seek solace from her pain and the feelings of guilt that she could have done more to protect her daughter, Sophie finds herself becoming obsessed with Vivi’s life.

But nothing can prepare Sophie for what she is about to uncover – the story of a woman who risked everything for the person she loved the most; and a secret family history that could be the key to Sophie’s own future.

A powerful, haunting and unforgettable read about love, heartbreak and betrayal set in Second World War Britain and France. Perfect for fans of The NightingaleUnder a Scarlet Sky and My Name is Eva.  

French Village Diaries book review When We Were Brave Suzanne Kelman Bookouture #BooksOnTour
Bookouture #BooksOnTour
When We Were Brave Suzanne Kelman

My Review:

A chance discovery from a photograph of bombed-out London during the war and Sophie realises there is a skeleton hidden in her family; Great Aunt Vivi, who no one has spoken about for years. A nurse during the war, one night Vivi Hamilton helped a German prisoner escape to France, and left her family to be with him. Decades later, the pain of her actions is still raw for the older members of her family.

The first thing I felt about Sophie was the weight of her sadness and loss, something that had left her and boyfriend Matt in separate lonely places. With a background in law but currently occupied archiving historical materials, Sophie needs a break from her usual routine, so is just the person to get to the bottom of the family mystery. She carefully follows the clues from London to Cornwall, then on to Brittany, Paris and Berlin. It is an emotional journey for her and what she discovers isn’t always easy to accept or understand, but it’s a journey she needs to make to help her heal her own broken heart.

Interspersed with Sophie’s journey we get to read Vivi’s story. Young, stubborn and reckless, but strong and independent, Vivi’s war journey is unexpected and full of risk. She is trained to know who not to trust, but can she trust her instincts, or is her heart ruling her head?

I loved the flicking back and forth from Sophie to Vivi and although the reader knows more than Sophie, I was still gripped and desperate to know how Sophie would tie up all that she discovered about her Great Aunt Vivi. 

Sophie is vulnerable but determined and I so wanted her to find peace and closure, both for events from the past as well as with her own problems. She needed to discover the strength Vivi possessed to realise she too can boldly step into her new future.

If you enjoy historical dramas, set in Occupied France, with a bit of mystery, romance and family drama, add this to your To Be Read list for 2020.

French Village Diaries book review When We Were Brave Suzanne Kelman Bookouture #BooksOnTour
Suzanne Kelman author When We Were Brave

Author Bio:

Suzanne Kelman is a 2015 Academy of Motion Pictures Nicholl Finalist, Multi-Award-Winning Screenwriter and a Film Producer. As well as working in film she is also an International Amazon Bestselling Fiction Author of the Southlea Bay Series – The Rejected Writers’ Book Club, Rejected Writers Take the Stage and The Rejected Writers’ Christmas Wedding. Born in the United Kingdom, she now resides in Washington State. 

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