On Thursday, March 5th, it is World Book Day. It seemed appropriate to me that a book review would be the subject of my blog this week. A book set in France, to be precise in the most famous city in France, would seem to fit the bill perfectly. In addition, one of the central characters owns a bookshop and a significant proportion of the action takes place in that wonderful bookish environment. A perfect fit for this particular week!
I haven't come across this author's work before but, as soon as I started reading this book, I knew I was going to be in for a comforting, uncomplicated but compelling read. The prose flows well, the narrative voice is easy on the mind and the use of description is just right. This writer paints wonderful pictures with her words. I found myself totally immersed in this story from the outset.
Moving between two time frames - the 1960s and occupied Paris - it tells the story of Valerie, her family and the secrets that have been hidden from her since she was a tiny child. Les années noires, the dark years of the occupation, were an especially difficult period of history for France. Although the book is partly set during those years, I felt that the difficulties and actuality of everyday life during that time were underused in the story. I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading fiction, not history. Naturally there are some excellent tomes about that period of French history; one or two of them have featured in reviews here on the blog.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I found the characters to be very well drawn and the dynamics between them compelling. I will be adding more of this author's books to my kindle.
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