It’s my blog tour stop for this wonderful book. Thank you Victoria Joss, Head of Zeus, for inviting me on this tour and for the lovely limited edition proof.
Arthur Pettinger’s memory isn’t what it used to be. He can’t always remember the names of his grandchildren, where he lives or which way round his slippers go. He does remember Maryse though, a woman he hasn’t seen for decades, but whose face he will never forget.
When Arthur’s granddaughter, Maddy moves in along with her daughter Esther, it’s her first step towards pulling her life back together. But when Esther makes a video with Arthur, the hunt for the mysterious Maryse goes viral.
There’s only one person who can help Maddy track down this woman – the one that got away, Joe. Their quest takes them to France, and into the heart of the French Resistance.
The opening chapter of this book immediately drew me in and squeezed my heart, I found it so heart-wrenching and emotional I was compelled to keep turning the pages. Arthur suffers from acute memory loss but some of his memories keep rising to the surface. He gets frustrated with himself at not being able to remember and certain memories trigger intense emotions and it he has no idea why he is feeling them. The author brilliantly captures Arthur’s confusion and frustration at not being able to remember and his struggles with Alzheimer’s are beautifully and sensitively portrayed. At one point Arthur pulls out a handkerchief to dab his eyes during an emotional moment, there is an ‘M’ embroidered in the corner, his heart skips a beat, he doesn’t know why. He looks at his old age-spotted hands and doesn’t recognise them, they belong to an old man.
It is after the sudden departure of Hazel, Arthur’s previous carer and Maddy’s half-sister, that Maddy and her daughter, Esther, come to live with him. I adored the relationship Arthur had with both Maddy and Esther. From the onset, they showed great compassion and empathy towards him and had a lovely caring and nurturing attitude and most importantly treated him with infinite patience and the utmost respect. Quite clearly he is loved and cherished by both his granddaughter and great granddaughter alike. This contrasted significantly to the care received by Hazel at the beginning, who was undoubtedly beginning to lose her patience with Arthur.
Esther’s interest is peaked one day by an old scrap book, she finds lying on the bookshelf, and it is whilst flicking through this with Arthur old memories begin to surface. During Arthur’s more coherent moments he consistently mentions Maryse and often lapses into fluent French. Maddie and Esther begin to make sense of his ramblings. They uncover a long forgotten love affair Arthur had with a French resistance woman during the Second World War, the love of his life, and decide to try to track Maryse down in order to get closure for Arthur.
The dual timeline seamlessly moves between present day and the 1940s and I really enjoyed both storylines equally. When Maddy’s ex-boyfriend is simultaneously drawn into the story, we essentially get two love stories going on both past and present. The characters are a joy to read about, have depth and are beautifully crafted by the author.
Both heart-warming and heart-wrenching this book will definitely play with your emotions. This is a wonderful love story with some chapters that moved me beyond words. The setting and era is evocative and beautifully described and I became so invested in the story and characters that I did not want it to end. The ending completely undid me and it is incredibly moving and emotional. A captivating and brilliantly written story which I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys Women’s Historical Fiction.
Publisher: Aria & Aries
Publication Date: 4 March 2021 (ebook)/10 June 2021 (paperback)
Page Count: 416
Genre: Women’s Fictional/Historical Fiction/Romance
Please do not hesitate to comment below if you liked my review or have any comments about this book 😊
About the author: Suzanne Fortin is a USA Today and Amazon UK and USA best selling author, with The Girl Who Lied and Sister Sister both reaching #1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Her books have sold over a million copies and translation rights for her novels have been sold worldwide. She was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex where she now lives with her husband and family.