book review · books · Family · Historical fiction · love · reading · World War 2

All the Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White {ARC Review}

Blurb:

France, 1914. As war breaks out, Aurelie becomes trapped on the wrong side of the front with her father, Comte Sigismund de Courcelles. When the Germans move into their family’s ancestral estate, using it as their headquarters, Aurelie discovers she knows the German Major’s aide de camp, Maximilian Von Sternburg. She and the dashing young officer first met during Aurelie’s debutante days in Paris. Despite their conflicting loyalties, Aurelie and Max’s friendship soon deepens into love, but betrayal will shatter them both, driving Aurelie back to Paris and the Ritz— the home of her estranged American heiress mother, with unexpected consequences.

France, 1942. Raised by her indomitable, free-spirited American grandmother in the glamorous Hotel Ritz, Marguerite “Daisy” Villon remains in Paris with her daughter and husband, a Nazi collaborator, after France falls to Hitler. At first reluctant to put herself and her family at risk to assist her grandmother’s Resistance efforts, Daisy agrees to act as a courier for a skilled English forger known only as Legrand, who creates identity papers for Resistance members and Jewish refugees. But as Daisy is drawn ever deeper into Legrand’s underground network, committing increasingly audacious acts of resistance for the sake of the country—and the man—she holds dear, she uncovers a devastating secret . . . one that will force her to commit the ultimate betrayal, and to confront at last the shocking circumstances of her own family history.

France, 1964. For Barbara “Babs” Langford, her husband, Kit, was the love of her life. Yet their marriage was haunted by a mysterious woman known only as La Fleur. On Kit’s death, American lawyer Andrew “Drew” Bowdoin appears at her door. Hired to find a Resistance fighter turned traitor known as “La Fleur,” the investigation has led to Kit Langford. Curious to know more about the enigmatic La Fleur, Babs joins Drew in his search, a journey of discovery that that takes them to Paris and the Ritz—and to unexpected places of the heart. . . .

Review:

This is the first novel I have read from all three of the authors. I am familiar with and have read work by Beatriz Williams but that is all.

This story is told from three perspectives along three different timelines. I spent the first part of the story trying to figure out the connection between the three women and almost lost the point of the story. I quickly got myself together so that I could enjoy the story itself. And I am so glad that I did.

I don’t know who I can say is my favorite out of the three women. They all had their strengths and weaknesses. Each possessed a quality that was seen in the other women. There were even a couple of moments I giggled at some of the antics that they went thru which isn’t usual for a historical fiction and I enjoyed that.

Some of the men they had to interact with in their own timelines made me want to reach thru the pages and slap. Especially Daisy’s husband. With Bab’s situation, I wonder if PTSD was a thing that was recognized during that time period would she and Kit have made it as long as they did, or would she have known their relationship for what it really was.

When the connection is made between the three women along with some of the  women they interact with, I wasn’t surprised. I was pleasantly satisfied with the outcome.

Women have so much more strength than they are given credit for and sometimes they have to use their weaknesses to find their strengths and push forward.

I enjoyed this story and I can say that I will read another novel by all three authors and even check out their individual works.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available January 14, 2020 in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook

 

A special thank you to WilliamMorrow books for my gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.

book review · Family · secrets

French Exit by Patrick deWitt {Review}

Goodreads Blurb:

Frances Price – tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature – is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son Malcolm is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development. And then there’s the Price’s aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social outcasts.

Putting penury and pariahdom behind them, the family decides to cut their losses and head for the exit. One ocean voyage later, the curious trio land in their beloved Paris, the City of Light serving as a backdrop not for love or romance, but self destruction and economical ruin – to riotous effect. A number of singular characters serve to round out the cast: a bashful private investigator, an aimless psychic proposing a seance, a doctor who makes house calls with his wine merchant in tow, and the inimitable Mme. Reynard, aggressive houseguest and dementedly friendly American expat.

Brimming with pathos and wit, French Exit is a one-of-a-kind ‘tragedy of manners,’ a riotous send-up of high society, as well as a moving mother/son caper which only Patrick deWitt could conceive and execute.

Review:

This has been one of the quirkiest books I have read all summer, in fact all year. It will have you questioning your humanity because of the things you may laugh at. At the same time, it invokes thought. Almost one of those laugh until you’re crying type stories. At first glance, the relationship between Frances and her son Malcom leaves a bit to be desired but as the story develops you understand more of why it is the way it is.  I didn’t think that Small Frank, the cat was going to have as much of an impact on the story as he did. Him being in the reincarnated form gave you an insight to how he was as a person. Frances was not a woman to be messed with. She said what was on her mind and she had no couth about it. She doesn’t even let the fact that she is going to be broke deter her from her attitude and feelings about life. I thought that she was just a woman who loved the finer things in life and didn’t care what expense she had to occur to get them but as the story progresses, you see more into her character and begin to understand what her motives are.

Malcolm seems to be a dimwitted man who has no sense of life but understanding that he basically grew up by himself with no one to really care for him or show him how to be a person, per say, it dawns a new light on him. He is smarter than he appears, and he is also a petty thief. He doesn’t steal to cause harm, he is just a collector of trinkets. He has a fiancé, Susan who seems to deeply care for him, but he doesn’t really know what to do with those feelings. You also get a sense that he also has deep feelings for her but doesn’t know how to convey them to her or even to himself.

Once Frances, Malcolm, and Small Frank (I still giggle when I think about him) arrive in Paris, their lives take a very peculiar turn. You would think it is a turn for the worse, in Small Frank’s case it probably was, but it takes a turn for the better. They encounter new friends, old friends and tie up some loose ends when least expected. Malcolm doesn’t quite understand or care for that matter why his mother is behaving the way she since he is only used to her brash nature and not this woman she has become since arriving in Paris. I will admit that I did find Frances just a tad bit selfish at the end of the story, but I almost couldn’t blame her.

This was an unexpected dark comedy and I enjoyed it. The dark moments blended with the lighter moments in just the perfect way. There were some incidents that I didn’t care for, but I understand that they were needed for the character development and the plot itself.

You never know what life is going to throw at you and it is your decision on how to deal with it. It is also never too late to make changes or make your feelings known to those you love or care about, but it is best to do those things sooner rather than later.

 I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:

3.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook and audiobook.