Author: Caroline Scott
Source: from publisher for review
Summary: This book had a lot of potential, with interesting themes and descriptive writing, but was dominated by a romance I didn’t enjoy.
I’m always surprised by how many different stories there are about WWI and WWII. This WWI novel primarily takes place after the war is over and focuses on those left behind. Edie is a young woman, unconvinced that her husband Francis (missing, believed dead) is truly gone. She asks his brother, Harry, to help her locate Francis’s grave. While doing so, he takes on commissions from other grieving families who want pictures to help give them closure.
This book initially really interested me for its exploration of the many ways people experience loss. Unfortunately, the potential here didn’t quite come together. We see a lot of how Harry and Edie experience Francis’s loss. However, each of them is involved in other relationships that make their experiences feel like a soap opera. There’s a lot of drama but little to say about the more general human experience of loss. Harry’s work with grieving families also seemed like a promising way to explore broader experiences, but this was given very little attention in the story. Lastly, Harry does meet two other people who are grieving missing or dead loved ones. Their experiences are such a close parallel to Harry and Edie’s experience though, that it feels like an unbelievable coincidence and adds little to the story.
I was also interested in this book because it had been compared to Jennifer Robson’s war novels, which I’ve loved. One aspect of this book that deserved that comparison was the detailed writing about a specific time period. The author of this book did a wonderful job making me see the places she described. She also wrote the characters’ observations so they felt authentic to the time, including them making some observations that relied on period-specific knowledge. Unlike Robson’s books, however, this book was completely dominated by the romance. The exploration of loss and the mystery of what happened to Francis, all circle back to and are subsumed by the romantic story line. Some readers might find this appealing, but I didn’t enjoy the star-crossed romance and I picked this book up looking for something else.