Thursday, July 28, 2022

Book review of The Secret Keeper by Siobhan Curham

French Village Diaries book review The Secret Keeper Siobhan Curham
The Secret Keeper by Siobhan Curham


The Secret Keeper by Siobhan Curham

 

Nazi-occupied Paris, 1942. “I want to create a world where we are free to be together, to be in love,” he whispered. I gulp down the sobs building in my throat. “I want that too. I’ll come back to you. I swear I’ll come back.”

Elena Garcia knows that the mission she has been tasked with is her most dangerous yet. With a tearful goodbye to the man she has grown to love, the dark-eyed and warm-hearted Santiago Lozano, she hurries to catch the train to the drop-off point, the coded maps she is delivering for the resistance concealed in a pack of playing cards in her purse.

As she leaves the underground meeting, she hears heavy footsteps closing in behind her. Her heart pounds, and a dark figure comes into her line of sight. Expertly fighting off her attacker, Elena races back to the station, barely making it onto the train. She is forced to confront the worst: her cover is blown and now nowhere will be safe. Somebody close to her is a traitor, but when you live in the shadows, how do you know who you can really trust?

To stay alive, Elena must flee the country – and that means leaving Santiago behind. But she refuses to abandon her mission while Europe is still in the clutches of the enemy, and she will not leave Santiago to face the wrath of the Gestapo alone.

But when Elena uncovers that the love of her life has been having meetings with high-ranking government officials and hears German officials greeting him by name in the street, it’s clear that Santiago has his own secrets.

Elena must now ask herself: should she risk everything to save Santiago… or was he the one who betrayed her to the enemy? And now, with millions of innocent lives across Europe at stake, how can she know what is the right choice?

An epic, gripping and emotional wartime novel based on the true stories of the female spies sent into occupied Europe. Fans of The Alice Network, Soraya M. Lane and Pam Jenoff will be totally hooked.



French Village Diaries book review The Secret Keeper Siobhan Curham
The Secret Keeper by Siobhan Curham

 

My Review

Having enjoyed three previous historical novels from Siobhan Curham, I was delighted to get my hands on her latest book. Chapter one, page one and nine words at the end of the first paragraph – that was all it took to hook me into another great read.

 

Elena was a strong character who I warmed to immediately. Desperate to full fill her dreams of becoming an actress, she was working in a diner as she waited for her break. When an opportunity came her way, it was not at all what she was expecting, as she found herself undergoing training for espionage before being sent to Europe.

 

She might have grown up in America, but her Mexican heritage was just one thing that helped her in her new role, the other was her determination to free France for her beloved Grand-mère Rose. It was the addition of Rose’s letters to Elena from occupied France that I particularly loved, and that played such an important part in this book for me.

 

As the reality of espionage in a foreign country hit our heroine, this book raised my pulse on many occasions, and with the suspense, twists and danger, I was often on the edge of my seat in this fast-paced novel. The locations came to life, the historical side added interest and the emotion and passion were spot on.

 

As with Siobhan’s previous books, it was obvious that this was a well-researched novel that felt believable from the beginning, even though it was very different to her other books I’ve read. 

 

If you enjoy historical fiction, then I recommend you add The Secret Keeper by Siobhan Curham to your summer reading list.

 

Purchase Link 



Amazon 




French Village Diaries book review The Secret Keeper Siobhan Curham
Siobhan Curham

 

Author Bio

 

Siobhan Curham is an award-winning author, ghost writer, editor and writing coach. She has also written for many newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Guardian, Breathe magazine, Cosmopolitan, Writers’ Forum, DatingAdvice.com, and Spirit & Destiny. Siobhan has been a guest on various radio and TV shows, including Woman’s Hour, BBC News, GMTV and BBC Breakfast. And she has spoken at businesses, schools, universities and literary festivals around the world, including the BBC, Hay Festival, Cheltenham Festival, Bath Festival, Ilkley Festival, London Book Fair and Sharjah Reading Festival.

 

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You might like my reviews of Siobhan’s other novels:

An American in Paris 

Beyond this Broken Sky

The Paris Network




 

Book review of A Summer of Castles by Rachel Walkley

French Village Diaries book review A Summer of Castles Rachel Walkley
A Summer of Castles by Rachel Walkley


A Summer of Castles

A Summer of Castles. A secret in ruins.

 

At the beginning of the sultry 2003 English summer, Robyn Yates quits her job to photograph fifteen castles for a man she’s never met. A man who won’t tell her his real name. 

 

What motivates her is an unusual ability she can’t explain nor understand. Somebody does though and is keen to exploit her secret.

 

But Robyn isn’t alone on her journey. An artist is painting pictures of the same castles. Wherever she goes, so does he, like a stalker. But is he dangerous? And could this man be the same person who wants her photographs? 

 

She decides to challenge him, never anticipating that the confrontation will change the path of both of their lives.

 

The stifling summer will eventually end, but will Robyn find out the truth in time?



French Village Diaries book review A Summer of Castles Rachel Walkley
A Summer of Castles by Rachel Walkley

 

My Review 

This book might not have a French twist, but as part of my summer working in the chateau, I couldn’t resist a book all about a summer spent visiting and photographing chateaux sorry castles in the north of England.

 

This book had a strong sense of place, with the sticky summer heat, the hard, cold stone, and the often remote locations photographer Robyn is sent to. The backdrop of the ancient castles perfectly matched the mystery and intrigue, that grabbed me from the start and which I found quite dark in places too. I enjoyed the slow unfolding of the story as we got to meet the characters of Robyn and the artist, and I became as desperate as she was to understand the link between their reasons for being where they are this summer.

 

It is the stones and structures of old buildings that talk to me, for Robyn, it was something entirely different, that I won’t spoil here, but I will say, her ‘gift’ added an extra layer of enjoyment and interest for me. Likewise, the snippets of history from the old guidebook she carries with her, that were slotted neatly into the chapters.

 

This book might not have been what I was expecting when I began reading it, but I certainly enjoyed the surprises and twists. If you are looking for a summer read with a bit of a difference, take yourself away with Robyn in A Summer of Castles.


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French Village Diaries book review A Summer of Castles Rachel Walkley
Rachel Walkley

 

Author Bio 

 

Aspiring writer who pens Women's Fiction and magical tales about family secrets.

 

What else?

 

An East Anglian turned Northerner - almost.

 

Information professional, always.

 

Biologist, in my memories.

 

Archivist, when required.

 

Amateur pianist and flautist.

 

Reluctant gardener.

 

Scribbler of pictures.

 

And forever.... a mother and wife.

 

Oh, not forgetting, cat lover!

 

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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

There’s no need for a parent-panic, Mum, but we’ve got a bit of a situation

French Village Diaries summer jobs for students the Lot
St Cirq-Lapopie, the Lot


Ed, Pearl and a sunshine bus of happy campers

Before I start this epic (in length anyway) blog, I have to thank Ed and Pearl for allowing me to share their adventures, even though this is my account of an eventful week, ie from the point of view of an over-worrying mum. I guess it is true when they say you never stop worrying about your children, no matter how old they get.

 

Ed and Pearl set off last weekend for summer job with a difference, and one that is a world away from the more routine library job he enjoyed last summer. This year they will be working away for five weeks as the responsible leaders in charge of taking adults with learning difficulties on holiday. It will be a busy summer for them, chaperoning three sets of seven people - two fortnight holidays followed by one week, staying in gîtes in the Lot and then the Creuse.

 

We are equally proud of them and terrified at the responsibility that will be on their shoulders, but we are quite sure if they can survive this, which will include driving a minibus, budgeting for all the holiday expenses, cooking and cleaning (with added covid-19 protocols) as well as day trips and entertainment, they can probably survive anything and will undoubtably learn so much. They are undeniably the most sensible twenty-one and twenty-two-year old’s we know, old before their time, living in a one-bedroom flat (with balcony) in a quiet residential street well away from the hot spots of Poitiers’ student nightlife. Pearl is quiet and caring; a gentle soul who scoops up the lost and injured and who animals always warm to. Ed has a sensitive and caring side too and as this first week away would prove, the ability to remain calm under pressure. On the flip side, they both have amazing airhead moments when I worry about leaving them in charge of an ice-cream.



French Village Diaries summer jobs for students the Lot
The Lot

 

The long goodbyes

We got to their flat just after eight o’clock on Saturday morning to give them a bit of morale-boosting and ensure nothing important would be left behind, of which we were only partially successful. As we parked up in a remote corner of a lycée carpark, close enough to the Futuroscope theme park to hear the screams of delight from happy holidaying families, we asked if they would prefer us to hide in the car or were happy to be seen in public with us. Given our roles as bag carriers, we all marched over to the marquees and portacabins that will now be the summer hub for the association organising accompanied holidays for around two-thousand vulnerable adults, with a team of around four hundred staff members – 98% of whom are students.

 

Having signed in and admired around fifty hired minibuses from Titi Location, used during term time for school pick-ups and drop-offs, their first task was assigned to them. Pearl, being one of the oldest (at 22) was the designated driver of a Titibus to take a van full of other students to the hire car centre by the station in Poitiers, twelve kilometres away. As Ed and Pearl will be working together all summer, and Ed was the more enthusiastic candidate, they had an understanding – Ed would be the driver of the minibus, Pearl in charge of navigation. Thrown in at the deep end, she bravely overcame her nerves and made it back safely, followed by a convoy of Europe Car hired vehicles, most with an array of scratches, scrapes and dents in all panels. We proudly stood at a respectable distance as Ed displayed a perfect reverse parking manoeuvre on something that is almost double the length of his Fiat Panda, a skill he has obviously inherited from his father, not me. These few hours of helicopter parenting reassured us that despite their youth and inexperience in so many areas, they would probably be fine, and it was time to take our leave. Many of their summer colleagues were equally as inexperienced and were only just eighteen, so also fairly new to driving – what could possibly go wrong? We hugged them both and returned to their flat to pick up the washing and close it down for the summer. We also scanned in a medical certificate and sent it over to Pearl, the original having failed to make it into her luggage, despite our last-minute checks this morning.

 

It seems their standard laundry policy is to fill their laundry basket until the point of overspill, have a rummage on the top for the essentials and put a wash load on. While this must work for them, every now and again a visit from the laundry fairy to prove there is indeed a bottom to the basket seems a good idea and resulted in four large laundry bags of clothes, another one of bedding and one of assorted towels and tea towels filling the back seat of our car. We also vacuumed the bedroom, emptied the fridge and defrosted the icebox, and cleaned the bathroom, before treating ourselves to a burger lunch at a local diner. Such is our efficiency, we squeezed in a weekly shop on our way home and still had enough time to get the first wash load on and hung out, around our constant checking for text messages from Ed.



French Village Diaries summer jobs for students the Lot
Albas, the Lot


 

Their first holiday makers arrived Saturday afternoon, identical twin brothers (with different shaped glasses to help differentiate them) who according to Ed were rather quiet and not too chatty. They all spent the night in a local hotel before the arrival of the rest of the group and the official departure on Sunday. Their three-hundred- and forty-five-kilometre route to the Lot had to go via Limoges, where they picked up their last two clients on the ring road, a chatty wife and quieter husband, and everyone enjoyed a group-getting-to-know-you picnic in Limoges. Before hitting the road once more, they stopped for some essential shopping as the packed picnic from the association, that was supposed to be sufficient for lunch and dinner on Sunday, was woefully empty. 

 

We dot-watched Ed’s mobile phone location on and off on Sunday afternoon, as the excitement of a local semi-pro bicycle race flew through our village, and decked out in our florescent yellow vests, we took our traffic marshalling roles very seriously indeed, before joining friends for a cold beer. Once our phone revealed our travellers had arrived without incident, my anxiety levels began to abate, just a little.



French Village Diaries summer jobs for students the Lot
Lot vineyards

 

La Canicule/Heatwave

Monday was a red-alert day for us for extreme heat, with temperatures expected to rise above 40º. Although it had been 36º when they arrived at their gîte, the department of the Lot wasn’t expected to be quite as hot as where we were, but they sensibly decided a quiet day in the cool would be best for everyone. They were joined by Martino, a more experienced member of staff who would be with them until Friday lunchtime, to ensure they had everything under control and give them both some downtime, as there would be no rest days in week two. Siestas were encouraged and the planned early evening walk in a shady spot put on hold when everyone emerged post-siesta dressed in pjs.

 

Tuesday morning and we awoke to the smell of burning and heavy, leaden skies. The temperature had dropped overnight and the change in wind direction meant the smoke from the devastating forest fires between Arcachon and Bordeaux had reached us, some two-hundred kilometres to the north-east. A quick text to Ed revealed they had missed this excitement and the sun was still shining on their holiday, for now. 

 

We spotted his phone location in Cahors and imagined them to be taking in the sights of the fourteenth century Valentré bridge, with its towers, arches and cobbles, that is one of our favourite places in the area, but realising they would be busy, tried our best not to keep messaging for updates. As my evening yoga class drew to a close and I’d settled down for the relaxation part, my phone began to ring. Adrian was still out on his bike, so relaxation was the last thing my mind was capable of with a ringing phone down in the kitchen. It wasn’t a call for help from Adrian, but Ed out in the garden of the gîte uttering the words “there’s no need for a parent-panic, Mum, but we’ve got a bit of a situation”.



French Village Diaries summer jobs for students the Lot
Pont Valentré, Cahors, the Lot

 

Hello Covid-19

While the theory of creating ‘family’ groups of strangers for accompanied holiday experiences is spot-on, we are still living through a pandemic and it seems our companion Covid-19 didn’t want to be left out.

 

Pearl had begun to feel unwell on Sunday, got a positive result from a home Covid-19 test on Monday, that was confirmed by a PCR test on Tuesday morning, hence their visit to Cahors. The good news was that Ed was suffering no symptoms and his PCR had come back negative. They were awaiting further instructions from the association, but as her results hadn’t arrived until after six o’clock, nothing much could be decided until the following day. Their sleeping arrangements in this gîte were bunk beds, which at least gave a bit more of a safety buffer than a double bed. Luckily, with Martino already onsite, there was no immediate need for a replacement member of staff.

 

My covid panic-monitor rose sharply at the realisation that I’d stripped their bed not more than a few hours after they’d rolled out of it on Saturday and bundled all their laundry into the car, some of it having made it through the washing machine, some of it still bagged in our laundry room. The fact that Ed was holding his own was reassuring and by now it was too late to worry about my lack of personal protection equipment, or that we’d hugged them both goodbye.



French Village Diaries summer jobs for students the Lot
The Lot


 

Texts were flying on Wednesday as I checked in with Pearl to see how she was feeling, reassured myself that Ed was still feeling OK and hung on with tenterhooks to see what the group PCR results would be as today’s fun activity had been a minibus ride back to the Covid-19 test centre in Cahors. Luckily all results came back clear, and Pearl had used her time to liaise with the association. It seems that despite it only being the first few days of the first week, theirs was not the only group to be hit with Covid-19. The association had taken out an insurance policy that provided an ambulance taxi service to evacuate staff members falling ill, so at seven o’clock on Wednesday evening an ambulance arrived to collect Pearl and drive her back to the flat in Poitiers – the flat that we had stripped bare on Saturday, turning off the electrics as we shut the front door behind us. Luckily for Pearl, Adrian wasn’t working, so had made a mercy dash with a few food essentials, the freshly washed bedding and towels, and ensured that when she arrived at almost midnight, there was a tank of hot water for a shower.

 

It might be that I’m just nosey, but there are times when I am the sort of person whose head is full of questions, and this was one of those times. I had questions for Pearl about how she was feeling, what symptoms she had and what would happen next in terms of being signed off from work, when she could return and how that would happen? I had questions for Ed about how he was feeling, what would happen when Martino had to leave on Friday lunchtime, would they need to keep testing everyone and had he safely managed to wash Pearl’s bedding from the top bunk? I also had questions about how the group were settling in together and had anyone been panicked at Pearls departure in an ambulance?



French Village Diaries summer jobs for students the Lot
The Lot

 

Not again

Thursday evening and once again my phone rang and once again, it was Ed. We might keep in contact regularly by text, but a real live call from him, is a rare occurrence and as I’d soon find out, not usually one imparting good news. 

 

This morning Martino had woken up with a cracking headache, which prompted a home test and another positive result for Covid-19. He wasn’t feeling up to doing much, so the group were given the option of a quiet day indoors if their mobility wasn’t too good and a trip to a Plus Beaux Villages de France for those who felt they could manage it. Ed and half the group packed a picnic and climbed in the minibus for the hours’ drive to St-Cirq-Lapopie, accessed via a narrow road that twists and turns up a gorge. Sometimes it’s not a benefit as an anxious parent to know the full details, but having cycled up the gorge twice, ducking under the overhanging rock formations, I knew exactly what he was getting himself into, in sole charge of a minibus and half the group of vulnerable adults. Arriving back just after six o’clock, there was no rest for him as he was on dinner duties, but he did receive the welcome news that another member of staff, Evan, had just left Poitiers and would be with them sometime after ten o’clock.



French Village Diaries summer jobs for students the Lot
St Vincent Rive d'Olt, the Lot

 

Le Tour de France

Friday was a day of much excitement for our happy campers as the Tour de France was passing through their village on its way to a finish line in Cahors. This meant a lot of road closures, so the obvious activity for the day was to walk into the village and soak up the atmosphere of the publicity caravane that precedes the passing of the cyclists. The only one unable to enjoy the fun was Martino who was shut in his bedroom awaiting his official PCR result before he could leave, something that had been delayed by twenty-four hours due to the arrival of the Tour de France. Luckily all other members of the group were still symptom free.

 

We eagerly watched the live race coverage on TV hoping for a glimpse of Ed at the side of the road, only to be disappointed as the camera cut to an overhead view of field art at the critical moment. At least some of the group had bagged some freebies from the caravane and although there was a mini panic when they lost one of the group on the walk back to the gîte, Ed assures me they found him again pretty quickly. It was lovely to get a photo of them all that evening in a local restaurant, happy and smiling as they waited for their burgers.



French Village Diaries summer jobs for students the Lot
The Lot

 

Pearl’s return

Pearl’s official sick-note only lasted until the end of Friday, which seemed woefully inadequate to me, but I guess we have reached the stage in the pandemic where the economy must keep rolling. I also found it a bit harsh that despite her dramatic evacuation, it was up to her to plan her return to the group. The train looked long and complicated, so she found a car-share option on BlaBlaCar and left Poitiers at four o’clock on the Saturday afternoon, with an arranged drop-off in the Cahors McDonald’s carpark later that evening. 

 

I’m pleased to say she made it safely back without incident, although the text from Ed about the antics of the family whose car she had shared did raise a few eyebrows. It seems the first thing they did on arrival in Cahors is dive into the bin in the car park and come out triumphant with loads of bread to eat. They were even generous enough to offer to share their haul with Ed and Pearl.

 

It is a relief for us that team Ed and Pearl are back together, and her return also meant Ed got his first day off on Sunday, when Pearl and Evan took charge of outings and activities. Well done guys, we are so proud of you - you’ve made it through the first week and proved you are more than up to the job, despite the issues that have come your way. Dad will be back to the flat this week, to strip the bed, bag up the washing, empty the fridge and turn off the electrics. I hope the rest of the summer is more fun and less eventful than this first week has been.

This is a post for Mums everywhere and reading it back I know it says far more about my inability to let go than Ed and Pearl’s ability to cope in a crisis. If you’ve made it to the end, thank you.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Book review of An Escape to Provence by Sophie Claire

French Village Diaries book review An Escape to Provence Sophie Claire
An Escape to Provence by Sophie Claire


An Escape to Provence by Sophie Claire

 

Where there's a will, can love find a way?

When cynical divorce lawyer Daisy Jackson unexpectedly inherits a ramshackle farmhouse in Provence, she sets off for the French countryside to oversee renovations herself.

But Gabriel Laforet has other ideas. A local builder with ties to the property, Gabriel is determined to see Daisy off and preserve the characterful, charming farmhouse - which, but for a missing will, he knows is rightfully his.

When the two meet, it's clear they couldn't be more different: Gabriel has lived in the small country village all his life; Daisy is a city girl whose career means everything. He is laid-back and messy; she is used to being in control. As they begin to work together, sparks fly. Yet they're inexplicably drawn to each other and, in the heat of the Provence sun, secrets begin to spill. Perhaps Daisy can trust him with her carefully guarded heart after all?

But Gabriel is still searching for the missing will that proves the farmhouse belongs to him - and in doing so, risks upturning everything he and Daisy have started to build together . . .



French Village Diaries book review An Escape to Provence Sophie Claire
An Escape to Provence by Sophie Claire

 

My Review

 

Daisy is a hardened London divorce lawyer, in charge, independent and inflexible. She lives life in the fast lane and is used to getting her own way. French builder Gabriel prefers a slower, more considered pace of life. He is hurt, angry and grieving and has no time for Daisy and the plans she is proposing. Sometimes in life your path unexpectedly crosses with someone so different to yourself, you appear to have nothing in common and yet you are inexplicably drawn to each other. This is true for Daisy and Gabriel. Despite their pre-conceived ideas and lack of flexibility, there is no doubt there is chemistry between them and I couldn’t wait for the inevitable emotional fireworks.

 

This is a book of many parts. It is deliciously hot and passionate, but as the truth behind their damaged pasts slowly comes to light it is also emotional, heart-breaking and painful. The more time Daisy and Gabriel spend together, the more they learn about each other, and themselves. It took a while for me to warm to Daisy, but I loved watching the subtle changes that affected them both and I desperately wanted them to give in to the chemistry and in doing so, give themselves a chance of happiness. With neither willing to let go of what is holding them back, it seemed an unlikely outcome.

 

Aside from the heat, the passion and the emotions, this book is also packed with lots of lovely French descriptions and detail that took me to Provence. The people, the village community, the French customs and traditions, everything blended perfectly with a storyline that was easy to fall into, but not so easy to put down. 

 

If you are looking for an escape to France this summer, add this latest book from Sophie Claire to your holiday reading pile, you won’t be disappointed.

 

  


Friday, July 15, 2022

Book review Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please

French Village Diaries book review Old Friends Reunited Maddie Please
Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please


Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please


Divorced and on a deadline, bestselling novelist Bea Pinkerton has a serious case of writer's block. With her agent breathing down her neck, Bea will do ANYTHING to avoid writing another word.

 

So an invite to a reunion with her old school friends at a beautiful chateau in France, is Bea’s perfect chance to escape. Surely here, relaxing with old friends and drinking cold fizz, Bea will find inspiration?

 

But as soon as Bea arrives, she realises this is not going to be the peaceful getaway she anticipated. Her old school friends Gin and Audrie are in various states of marital distress and to top it off a camera crew has arrived to film the goings on at Chateau De St Cyr. Far from being calm, the trip is total chaos!

 

Thank goodness for Bea's new French neighbour Laurent Sinclair - handsome, charming and perhaps exactly the romantic muse she needs to get her mojo back.

 

But is Bea brave enough to take a second chance at love at her age?

 

Perhaps with a little help from her friends...



French Village Diaries book review Old Friends Reunited Maddie Please
Old Friends Reunited Maddie Please

 

My Review


Working in a chateau this summer, I’m on a mission to read as many books set in chateaux as I can, and Old Friends Reunited ticked a lot of boxes for me. 

 

Take three old school friends at a time in their lives where they are wondering “what comes next”, one chateau in France and a little bit of French magic, and you have the perfect combination to help them find their way. 

 

Bea, Audrie and Gin are of an age where their insecurities have risen to the surface and begun to cloud their judgment. For Bea, a summer in France seems the perfect escape from her publisher as she struggles to fall in love with her latest, and long overdue, novel. Audrie needs her old friends around her as she’s thrown into a panic by her husband’s recent behaviour and Gin is searching for a future following (another) divorce. 

 

This book was hilariously funny as we followed them through the highs and lows of matrimonial quarrels, the antics of their adult children and the tentative steps toward a new relationship. I loved that although lots has changed since their school days, being back together reignited their spark and the silliness that had made them best friends all those years ago. The film crew popping up at the most comical moments (of which there were plenty), just added to the chaos of their summer at the chateau.

 

Whenever I picked this book up it was an escape from daily life that never failed to raise my spirits and make me laugh. It was a pleasure to witness the changes in their self-confidence as they realised there was still plenty of life left in them and how important it was to embrace it and live it to the full. I might have laughed at the funny bits, but this book also made my heart smile, especially when Bea realises that there is more to her future than she thought. 

 

If you are looking for a pick-me-up summer read to take on holiday, Old Friends Reunited should be top of your list.


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Amazon 



French Village Diaries book review Old Friends Reunited Maddie Please
Maddie Please

 

Author Bio 

 

Maddie Please is the #1 bestselling author of novels including The Old Ducks’ Club and Sisters Behaving Badly. Having had a career as a dentist and now lives in rural Devon where she enjoys box sets, red wine and Christmas. She will be taking a new direction in her writing for Boldwood with joyous tales of older women.

 

 

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Saturday, July 9, 2022

The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue by Ella Carey

French Village Diaries book review The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue Ella Carey #Booksontour
The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue by Ella Carey


The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue by Ella Carey


New York, 1938: Martha pulled the door of her Fifth Avenue apartment closed, her heart thumping, re-reading the telegram she’d been dreading. Her beloved sister Charlotte needed her help. She was alone in Paris, and the threat of Nazi invasion was growing ever stronger. The time had come for Martha to make the bravest decision of her life. She needed to bring Charlotte home.

As Martha looks out of her bedroom window at the blossom-covered trees in Central Park, she is a world away from Europe and the threat of war. But when a telegram arrives from her sister Charlotte telling of the death of their Jewish friend Anita, Martha’s quiet life changes in an instant. With the threat of the Nazi invasion growing, Martha knows she must travel to Paris to convince Charlotte to return home.

When Martha arrives, she finds a city preparing for war. Soldiers patrol Paris’ cobbled streets and families talk of packing up and fleeing with whatever they can carry. Clutching her sister tightly, Martha knows that Charlotte has already decided to stay. Charlotte’s heart is in France, and as an American in Paris she believes she will be safe.

When the Nazis march through Paris’ streets and raise their flags over the city’s most beautiful buildings, Charlotte is determined not to give in. She works for the Resistance with a Frenchman named Louis, carrying messages, and hiding Anita’s family’s precious art collection from the Nazis. Meanwhile, Martha vows to help a female Jewish professor to safety in America, only to be faced with impossible odds.

But as the war rages, Martha and Charlotte’s determination will be tested like never before. And when Charlotte uncovers a shocking secret about her family which threatens her own life, can she find the strength to protect those she loves the most?

From top ten bestselling author Ella Carey comes an utterly heartbreaking novel about the strength of sisterly love and the courage of the women of the Resistance. Perfect for fans of The NightingaleAll The Light We Cannot See and Fiona Valpy.


 

French Village Diaries book review The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue Ella Carey #Booksontour
The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue by Ella Carey - Books-on-tour


My Review


I’ve been enjoying Ella Carey’s historical novels for many years, and it was great to be back in her latest book, The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue. One of the things that I particularly loved about this book, was the overlap with The Girl from Paris, and the opportunity this gave to revisit some of the characters, as we join another family whose lives are thrown into turmoil by the war and the Occupation in Paris.

 

This book is a cleverly woven dual time-line novel that slowly reveals the extraordinary stories of Sandrine, Chloe and Anita, from their nursing days during the First World War to their lives and those of their families during the Occupation. From the younger generation, sisters Martha and Charlotte find themselves on different continents, pulled in different directions by their emotions, as Paris prepares itself for war once more. I took to Martha straight away and enjoyed watching her confidence grow throughout the novel. She might have thought Charlotte was the braver and more adventurous one, but for me she showed strength, independence and reliability. She had a lot more to give than she thought and all through the book my wish for her was to find her place of happiness.

 

Despite growing up in New York, Charlotte has always felt the pull of France and the first thing I felt was her stubbornness as she followed her heart and did all she could for her beloved second home. She takes risks, but through her story I learned more about the mission to hide the artworks of France from the Germans, both the private collections, often from Jewish families who had fled Paris, as well as the collections from the galleries like the Louvre. Charlotte had a determination that made it impossible for her to give up, despite the personal dangers involved and the worry of her father and sister at home.

 

This was an emotional read, that was heartbreakingly tough in places, but also soft and comforting in others. As with all of Ella’s novels she has a gift for making magic with her characters, plot and location. Her books always bring history to life for me, and I can’t wait for the next one.

 

If you enjoy historical fiction, with family dramas and hidden secrets, I’m sure you will love this latest read from Ella Carey.

 

Purchase Link 

 


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French Village Diaries book review The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue Ella Carey #Booksontour
Ella Carey

 

Author Bio 

 

Ella Carey is the international bestselling author of The Things We Don’t Say, Secret Shores, From a Paris Balcony, The House by the Lake, and Paris Time Capsule. Her books have been published in over fourteen languages, in twelve countries, and have been shortlisted for ARRA awards. A Francophile who has long been fascinated by secret histories set in Europe’s entrancing past, Ella has degrees in music, nineteenth-century women’s fiction, and modern European history. She lives in Melbourne with her two children and two Italian greyhounds who are constantly mistaken for whippets. 

 

Ella loves to connect with her readers regularly through her facebook page and on her website.  

 

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You can read my review of Ella’s previous novel in this series, The Girl From Paris here.

 

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