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Posts Tagged ‘World War I’

The Russia of Joseph Kanon’s Defectors (Atria, digital galley via NetGalley) is the Soviet Union circa 1961, gray and grim as the Cold War. Even the Party faithful have to wait in long lines for food and depend on the black market for basic amenities. Simon Weeks has often wondered why his older brother Frank, a CIA golden boy, chose to defect in 1949. Was it money, ideology, gamesmanship? Now Frank has written his KGB-approved memoirs and asks Simon, who became a publisher after his brother’s defection ended his State Department career, to edit the manuscript. Simon discovers his brother is as charming and wily as ever, even though he is accompanied everywhere by a minder, and the restricted, isolated lifestyle has turned his beautiful wife Joanna into an alcoholic. They consort only with other defectors, from famous figures like Guy Burgess to anonymous research scientists. A recent death in the group is presumed a suicide. When Frank begins to show his hand, Simon senses something is up and must fall back on old tradecraft. Betrayal is in the air, murder in a cathedral.

Kanon, who has written spy thrillers set in Istanbul, Berlin and Los Alamos, is at the top of his game. Defectors offers suspense and atmosphere galore, but it also explores the perplexing nature of a double agent, as well as enduring questions of loyalty to family and country. A timely tale.

I didn’t know much about World War I spies beyond Mata Hari until I read Kate Quinn’s compelling The Alice Network (HarperCollins, digital galley via edelweiss). The title comes from the name of a real-life group of female agents who operated in France during the Great War. American college student Charlie St. Clair first learns about the network in 1947 when she tries to find her cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the more recent war. Eve Gardiner, a reclusive, ill-tempered alcoholic and former Alice spy living in London, initially resists Charlie’s entreaty for help — she draws a gun on her — before setting out for France in her vintage roadster driven by charming ex-con Finn.

Quinn expertly propels parallel storylines, alternating between the 1947 road trip with its twists and dead ends, and Eve’s recruitment as a spy in 1915 and her dangerous work for the Alice network. Both stories, which eventually connect, are absorbing adventures, although Eve’s is the more harrowing as she becomes the unwilling mistress of a powerful German sympathizer. Still, Charlie also proves to be a resourceful, conflicted character with a not-so-little problem. Suspense increases as secrets come to light in both narratives. The Alice Network is sad and heart-breaking but also hopeful and redemptive.

In Mark Mills’ deft cat-and-mouse game of a thriller, Where Dead Men Meet (Blackstone Audio, digital galley via NetGalley), someone is trying to kill Luke Hamilton. Or it could be a case of mistaken identity in 1937 Paris, where Hamilton is assigned to the British Embassy. He is grieving at the news of the murder in England of Sister Agnes, the nun who took him in as an abandoned baby 25 years ago. Readers already know Sister Agnes’ murder is connected to the attempt on Luke’s life, but it is the appearance of the mysterious Bernard Fautrier who warns Luke he is in real danger.  The race — to escape the killers and to find out their motives — takes Luke to Nazi Germany, to neutral Switzerland, to enigmatic Venice. There are moments of exquisite tension, although the resolution of the main mystery comes a little too early. Still, complications ensue as table turns. Revenge is cold and deadly.

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summersdayCousin Gail and I are prepping for the fifth season of Downton Abbey, which begins its American run tonight on PBS’s Masterpiece Classic. We’re planning to watch the last episode of season four first and have a cup of official Downton Abbey tea, which I ordered from PBS as a holiday gift. As we all know, the popular series has created a cottage — or better yet, castle — industry of related products, including jewelry, books and even a board game. (I’ll let you know how the latter plays out.)

I generally write a post about the new or re-released books evoking the Downton era, but I haven’t read anything recently not previously mentioned. It being a century now since the Great War, there are a lot of World War I books to read and savor, new and old. My favorite nonfiction chronicles are Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August and Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory. Favorite novels include Philip Rock’s The Passing Bells, Robert Goddard’s In Pale Battalions and Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford series about a British nurse.

Before Todd — a mother-and-son writing team — came up with Bess, they introduced Inspector Ian Rutledge, a Scotland Yard detective literally haunted by his World War I experiences. Through 17 books, Rutledge, with the ghost of the soldier Hamish whispering in his ear, has investigated murders in England and Scotland, many of which are rooted in wartime. A Test of Wills begins the series, and the second, Wings of Fire, is even better, as Rutledge confronts the sudden deaths of three members of a prominent Cornwall family with a tragic history.

Now comes a treat for Rutledge fans, A Fine Summer’s Day (Morrow, digital galley and ARC), a prequel to the series set in the golden summer of 1914. Rutledge is planning to propose to his sweetheart Jean even as an assassin’s bullet kills the Archduke in faraway Sarajevo. As rumors of war begin to swirl, Rutledge is called on to investigate a series of seemingly disconnected murders. Knowing what lies ahead for Rutledge — and England — gives the twisty plot a special poignancy. Everything changed on that one day, and the reverberations are still being felt a decade later as Downton Abbey’s characters carry on, a new world in the making.

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lippmanBaltimore bookie Felix Brewer is the gone guy in After I’m Gone (Morrow, review copy), Laura Lippman’s artful novel of character and family, mystery and murder. When Brewer faces prison in July 1976, he chooses to disappear for parts unknown, leaving behind his beautiful wife Bambi and their three young daughters, as well as his mistress, former showgirl Julie Saxony. All of their lives are forever shaped by the absence of charismatic Felix. Bambi is forced to turn to her husband’s best friend, a wealthy attorney, for ongoing financial help, believing that Felix is still supporting Julie at the expense of her family.  And when Julie vanishes 10 years after Felix, it’s generally assumed that he sent for her at last — until her body is found some months later at a local park. Still, her murder remains a cold case until 2012, when retired Baltimore detective Sandy Sanchez begins investigating as a consultant.

As in such past novels as I’d Know You Anywhere, Lippman smoothly slips among multiple perspectives and time periods, steadily building suspense as she peels away layers of deceit. Lyrics from the 1950s song “Never Let Me Go” signal each section: “Hold me” “Thrill Me” “Miss Me” “Tell Me.”

Bambi, still lovely at 73, has always been good at keeping secrets. Her grown daughters — working mom Linda, smart, needy Rachel and pretty, selfish Michelle — have inherited that trait, as well as a stubborn belief their father will return. Sandy eventually discovers that all of the Brewer woman had motive and possible opportunity to do away with ambitious Julie, who so believed that Felix would marry her one day that she converted to Judaism.

Sandy, who has his own haunted past,  thinks, “we tend to order things according to the reality we know, as we discover it. All life is hindsight, really, stories informed by their endings.” You can keep that in mind as After I’m Gone reaches resolution — and also that Lippman is so very  good at misdirection.  The coda — “Never Let Me Go” — is perfect.

wakeIn 1920, London is still shadowed by the Great War. The reminders are everywhere, as maimed veterans sell small items door-to-door or park their wheelchairs on street corners. And they’re the lucky ones. A generation is buried in France and Belgium, leaving behind grieving wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, lovers. Anna Hope’s sad and lovely first novel Wake (Random House, digital galley) unfolds over five days in November as Britain awaits the arrival of the coffin of the Unknown Warrior. Hope traces the journey of  this anonymous soldier from his grave in France to London on Armistice Day in a series of italicized passages, but her narrative focuses on three women living with loss.

Hettie’s a dance hall girl, whose share of her sixpence-a-dance wages goes to support her widowed mother and shell-shocked brother. At a nightclub, she encounters a handsome veteran who perhaps will be her ticket to a new life. Evelyn, a bitter spinster whose fiance was killed in the war, immerses herself in work at the Pensions Bureau and wonders how her adored brother seemingly shrugs off the horrors he saw as an officer in the trenches. Ada remains so haunted by the death of her only son Michael that she neglects her husband and life itself. Over the course of the book, Hope delicately reveals the devastating wartime tragedy that unknowingly links the three women.

At one point, Ada stands outside at twilight, watching her neighbors at work in their kitchens. She finds it odd looking “at the rhythms and routines of life. It suddenly seems so clear. Some contract has been broken. Something has been ruptured. How have they all agreed to carry on?”

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marycelesteWhat are the odds? The evening news tells of an abandoned ship sailing the Atlantic filled with cannibal rats. On a recent episode of PBS’s Sherlock, a reference is made to the Giant Rat of Sumatra. Then the novel I’m reading, Valerie Martin’s The Ghost of the Mary Celeste (Doubleday/Nan A. Talese, digital galley), includes an abandoned ship, a chapter titled “The Giant Rat of Sumatra” and Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous creator of Sherlock Holmes.

Synchronicity. Serendipity. Martin makes elegant use of both as she stitches fact and fiction about shipwrecks, spiritualism, and Doyle flexing his storytelling skills. He is one of many fascinated by the actual mystery of the Mary Celeste, an American brig found floating at sea in 1872 with her cargo intact, her crew nowhere to be found. He even writes a bizarre tale about such a ship where a passenger goes berserk and murders all aboard, presenting it as an authentic account. Traveling in America in the 1894, he savors his new fame, not realizing that Philadelphia medium Violet Petra has a link to the tragedy. He thinks Violet is truly clairvoyant, but journalist Phoebe Grant is certain she’s a fake. Writing from multiple perspectives, Martin offers a story as rich and strange as one of Doyle’s. Full fathom five . . .

harrisRobert Harris’ An Officer and a Spy (Knopf, digital galley) recounts the infamous Dreyfus Affair from the viewpoint of an actual French army officer, George Picquart, who like many of his compatriots believes Capt. Alfred Dreyfus is a traitor. But shortly after Dreyfus is stripped of his rank in 1895 and shipped off to Devil’s Island, Picquart is promoted to head the military’s counterespionage unit and finds evidence that another spy has been passing secrets to the Germans. He also realizes that Dreyfus is the victim of a anti-Semitic conspiracy by military higher-ups, who aren’t pleased by Picquart’s investigation and derail his career. Harris unravels the complexities of the case with a novelist’s flair and a historian’s eye for detail, but I didn’t find it as thrilling as his novels The Ghost, Enigma or Archangel, where he allowed his imagination free rein.

inventionSomething similar occurs in Sue Monk Kidd’s involving The Invention of Wings (Viking, digital galley), which was inspired by the life of Sarah Grimke, a real-life abolitionist and feminist from Charleston, S.C. It’s a matter of record, Kidd writes in an afterward, that Sarah was presented with a house slave, 10-year-old Hetty, on her 11th birthday. The real Hetty died young, but Kidd re-imagines her as spirited and resourceful “Handful,” who is more pragmatic about her fate than precocious Sarah, who tries to emancipate her. When that fails, she teaches Hetty to read, and both girls are severely punished. Their friendship is tested by time and distance — Sarah finding refuge in Quaker Philadelphia, Hetty still a slave in the Grimke household — but both persevere in their ambitions and ideals. The dual narratives work well for the most part, but Hetty’s story is more harrowing and heartbreaking. Although Sarah’s accomplishments are many and laudable, she just isn’t as compelling a character when contrasted with the imagined Hetty. Both are strong women, but Hetty is more memorable, more real.

mrsblakeApril Smith is quick to write that while the circumstances of her new novel are factual, the majority of the characters are fictional. Still, A Star for Mrs. Blake (Knopf, digital galley),  has the veracity of real lives and true emotion. In 1931, Cora Blake is a librarian in a Maine fishing village whose only son died in World War I. As a “Gold Star Mother,” she joins a group of other women on a government-sponsored trip to France to visit the graves of the fallen and bid a final goodbye. The group line-up is familiar from central casting — the Boston society matron, the Jewish farmer’s wife under her husband’s thumb, the Irish maid. A Southern black seamstress has the same surname as a woman recently released from a mental hospital, but the group’s escorts, 2nd Lt. Thomas Hammond  and nurse Lily Barnett, quickly resolve the mix-up. The voyage over and the visit to the Meuse-Argonne is crowded with incident: flirtations, affairs, a scandal, a secret or two. Cora remains the star of the story; of particular interest is her friendship with a badly scarred war reporter who wears a tin mask and her relationship with the good man who waits for her at home. Throughout, Smith’s lovely writing elevates the story above  sentimental predictability.

underskyAs someone who learned to read from A Child’s Garden of Verses and has long been fascinated by Robert Louis Stevenson’s life and works, I had great expectations of Nancy Horan’s Under the Wide and Starry Sky (Random House, digital galley). The Scottish writer and his plucky, older American wife Fanny Osbourne had a-larger-than-life romance and marriage marked by RSL’s health troubles, frequent travel to exotic locales and career conflicts. And it’s still a good story, although Horan’s workaday prose threatens to rob Louis and Fanny of all vitality, turning them into characters who profess passion — for art and literature, for one another, for a wide and starry life — but who never leap off the page. Maybe someone should make a movie. . .

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saintsAfter finishing Ian Rankin’s Exit Music a few years ago, I really hoped we hadn’t seen the last of Edinburgh police detective John Rebus, even if he had reached the force’s mandatory retirement age. Thankfully, it was a metaphorical Reichenbach Falls for Rebus, who next appeared as a civilian consultant working cold cases in Standing in Another Man’s Grave, one of 2013’s  best crime novels. And now in the riveting Saints of the Shadow Bible (Little, Brown, digital galley), Rebus returns to the force, the age ban having been lifted. Still, he’s a bit of a grumpy dinosaur having been downgraded to a DS,  and working on an apparently routine traffic accident.  Then his nemesis, internal affairs DI Malcolm Fox, asks for his cooperation reopening a 30-year investigation involving Rebus and a group of cowboy cops called “the Saints” who had their own rules back in the day.

How different, really, is the old Rebus from the  young one? As Rankin deftly intertwines the car wreck and the old murder trial with current Scottish politics and a new generation of enterprising crooks and cops, we see Rebus contending with loyalties past and present, as well as changes in policing.  At one point he turns on a reluctant suspect: “I’m from the eighties, Peter — I’m not the new-fangled touchy-feely model. Now get out of my fucking car!”

invisibleTalking dinosaurs, you can’t get more prehistoric than elderly London detectives Arthur Bryant and John May of  the Peculiar Crimes Unit, whose eccentricities match those of the unusual cases they take on. In Christopher Fowler’s witty charmer The Invisible Code (Bantam, digital galley), the duo somehow connect the sudden, seemingly inexplicable death of a young woman in a church and the odd behavior of a Home Office politician’s beautiful wife with witchcraft, black magic, general devilment and matters of national security. Fowler never condescends to his characters or readers, threading his puzzles with quirky facts about London history and that of the PCU. An ancient pathologist, Bryant’s landlady and the cat called Crippen add to the three-ring atmosphere.

vaultedIf you have not yet succumbed to the delights of Alan Bradley’s series featuring precocious junior sleuth Flavia de Luce, do yourself a favor and don’t start with the sixth book, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Random House Publishing Group, digital galley). You need to go back at least one or two books to Speaking from Among the Bones and I Am Half-Sick of Shadows to catch up on the de Luce family history, the moldering mansion Buckshaw, Flavia’s penchant for poisons and detecting (an excess of high spirits got her kicked out the Girl Guides). There’s also the matter of missing mother Harriet, who vanished on a Himalayan expedition in 1941, and whose absence has defined Flavia as an “extraordinary” person. It’s 10 years later as the new book opens, Harriet has been found and Flavia is faced with becoming ordinary. Ha! Harriet’s homecoming is marred by the death of a strange man under a train, the arrival of distant relatives, experiments with reanimation and film restoration, suspicions of espionage and portents of an unexpected future. For series fans, it’s a fun bridge to the further adventures of Flavia. I can hardly wait for the next installment. O Canada!

huntingEarly on in Charles Todd’s Hunting Shadows (HarperCollins, digital galley), Scotland Yard’s Inspector Ian Rutledge gets lost in a shrouding fog on the Fens. That he can’t see a foot in front of him on the dangerous terrain is emblematic of his ensuing investigation into two baffling deaths. It’s August of 1920, and a sniper — presumably a veteran of the Great War like Rutledge — has claimed two victims two weeks apart. One is an Army officer awaiting a wedding at Ely Cathedral; the other a politician giving a speech in a nearby village. There’s no discernible connection between the two, and Rutledge is indeed hunting shadows, especially after one woman recounts seeing a “monster” in a window. As always, he is haunted by his memories of the war and the ghost of the soldier Hamish. The result is a thoughtful mystery rich in atmosphere.

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cindersThe new season of the PBS powerhouse Downton Abbey arrives stateside Sunday after having already aired in the UK. If you are the kind of person who likes spoilers, you probably already know via Google what’s up with Lady Mary, sister Edith, ladies’ maid Anna and butler Carson, etc., etc. The rest of us have been making do with reruns and the Downton Abbey cottage industry of books inspired by the series.

Publishers continue to ride the crest of Downton’s popularity, with authorized spin-offs, as well as reprints of similar family sagas (Philip Rock’s Passing Bells trilogy) and newly minted volumes (Fay Weldon’s The New Countess pubbed last month).  Aimed at teens, Leila Rasheed’s At Somerton series, which started last year with Cinders & Sapphires (Disney-Hyperion, purchased e-book), continues this month with Diamonds & Deceit, as Lady Ada and her sister brave the London season on the eve of World War I.

franceBecause 1914 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, we can expect more novels set in that era. I’m reading one of them right now — Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson (HarperCollins, digital galley). When war breaks out, plucky Lady Elizabeth “Lilly” Neville-Ashford, striving for independence from aristocratic society, becomes an ambulance driver “somewhere in France.” She is reunited with her brother’s childhood friend, Robbie Fraser, a field surgeon whose working-class background disqualifies him as a suitor in her parents’ eyes, but the war breaks down some barriers while erecting others. Love and war, duty and honor. Remember in Upstairs, Downstairs when Georgina was nursing in France and found wounded James? Lilly reminds me a bit of Georgina, as well as nurse Bess Crawford in Charles Todd’s ongoing series (A Question of Honor). Her challenges as a female ambulance driver also are similar to those of the title heroine of Anita Shreve’s recent novel Stella Bain.

ashendonW. Somerset Maugham drew on his time as a British intelligence officer during WWI for his collection of short stories Ashenden. It’s not to be confused with Elizabeth Wilhide’s Ashenden (Simon & Schuster, paperback review copy via Shelf Awareness), which takes its name from an English country house, its checkered history chronicled in a series of linked short stories. The first, set in 2010, finds brother and sister Charles and Ros wondering what to do with the old house they have surprisingly inherited. The narrative then skips back to 1775 and the building of the Palladian mansion designed by a Yorkshire architect who gives heart and blood to the project. Years later he returns to Ashenden with his ailing niece, who carves her initials beneath the window sill of the still-unfinished octagonal room. In 1837, the lady of the house takes a lover with scandalous consequences for the family and its servants. The house itself, neglected for decades, is then rescued and restored by the rags-to-riches Henderson clan in 1844, and  it’s a Henderson son’s housemaid’s impulsive theft 40 years later that makes for another tale. Like Downton Abbey, Ashenden becomes a convalescent home for wounded soldiers during World War I. Later, it’s the site of a Jazz Age treasure hunt, then a wartime POW camp. Nature takes its toll until a young couple intervenes in the 1950s, and so on. The episodic structure gives the book a familiar Masterpiece Theatre feel.

tyringhamRosemary McLoughlin’s Tyringham Park (Atria, digital galley), which will be published next month, is much more melodramatic. It begins on a summer day in 1917  when “the pretty one” — toddler Victoria Blackshaw — disappears on the huge estate in Ireland. The handsome stable manager and the kindly housekeeper are the most concerned. “The plain one” — eight-year-old Charlotte — is mute in the aftermath of her sister’s disappearance, ignored by her pompous father in London, and victimized at home by both her selfish mother, Lady Edwina, and scheming Nurse Dixon. Young Charlotte has a tough time in the years ahead, but her own behavior doesn’t always win sympathy, except when contrasted to Lady Edwina, who is such a conniving witch that she deserves disaster. Meanwhile, Nurse Dixon reinvents herself as Elizabeth Dixon in faraway Australia, where she plots revenge against the Blackshaws and eagerly awaits the day she can return triumphantly to Tyringham.  It’s soap opera in a scenic setting. Did I mention that Downton Abbey has been renewed for a fifth season?!

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roseRose Justice is a pilot, a poet, a POW. Most importantly, though, she has a promise to keep — “to tell the world” about the Nazi atrocities at the infamous World War II concentration camp Ravensbruck.

Elizabeth Wein’s Rose Under Fire (Disney/Hyperion, digital galley) is a companion volume to the award-winning Code Name Verity, and while a couple of characters overlap, it tells a very different story of friendship and bravery juxtaposed with the horrors of war. Most of it is told in retrospect by Rose, a young American volunteer transport pilot, and the beginning reads like a gallant girl’s adventure story with Rose training in England and being romanced by a soldier. But the tone changes drastically after Rose is forced down over enemy territory while flying transport and is captured by the Germans. Sent to Ravensbruck as a “skilled worker,” she suffers deprivations and humiliations, but nothing like what happens when she refuses to make fuses for flying bombs. Viciously beaten, she is thrown in with the political prisoners and sheltered by “the Polish rabbits,” the secretly defiant women and girls subjected to torturous medical experiments.

Readers know that Rose survived; interspersed sections find her writing furiously from a Paris hotel room, feeling like “a flea in a jewel box.” Eventually, she is brave enough to recount the desperate details of life — and  death — at the camp, plus her daring escape. A final section finds Rose several years later reporting on the Nuremburg trials. The whole is harrowing and heartbreaking, with indelible scenes: two Nazi guards fighting over the wrapper of a chocolate bar, the prisoners standing up for hours in the rain and cold, Ravensbruck as seen from the air, its lights shining from impenetrable darkness.

aftermathEverything is grey in Hamburg in 1946 — the devastated city, the dusty air, the defeated faces of the surviving population, mostly women and orphaned, feral children poking through the endless piles of rubble. This then is the bleak backdrop for Rhidian Brook’s intriguing novel The Aftermath (Knopf/Doubleday, digital galley), inspired by a family story. British Col. Lewis Morgan is charged with rebuilding the city even as he is reconstructing his own life in peacetime. His wife Rachael is unhappy to discover that Morgan has offered to share their requisitioned house with its owners, architect Stefan Lubert and his rebellious teenage daughter Freya, and she initially avoids the “enemy” in the upstairs apartment. But both families have suffered grievous losses in the war that provide a common ground of sorts, although Freya scorns the Morgans and takes up with a young German activist whose terrorist plotting could destroy the uneasy peace.

Col. Morgan’s efforts to reconcile the British occupation with the local citizenry is thwarted not only by pockets of resistance but also by the despicable actions of some of his own troops, who are hoarding the spoils of war. Brook invests his atmospheric story with themes of honor and forgiveness, love among the ruins, aptly painting all in shades of grey.

stellabainIn Anita Shreves’ involving Stella Bain (Little, Brown, digital galley), battles are fought both in the trenches of World War I France and in fine New England houses thousands of miles away. The combatants in both are wounded in mind and spirit. In a field hospital in 1916 Marne, a woman wakes up with only fragments of memory. Her accent identifies her as an American, she thinks her name is Stella Bain and that she knows how to drive an ambulance. But she believes the clues to her past lie in London, and it is there that a doctor’s wife finds her shivering in a park. Cranial surgeon August Bridge knows shell shock when he sees it, and he and wife Lily take Stella into their home. Some preliminary sessions of psychoanalysis help Stella recover more memories, some of which she depicts in her accomplished artwork. Then someone recognizes Stella — and she is not Stella.

The rest of the book follows the woman previously known as Stella Bain to the States to claim her complicated past, including the children she left behind with her professor husband. Shreve adroitly weaves information about shell shock — just being discovered in women — into the fabric of her hopeful tale of war and remembrance.

girlbehindMany coincidences and a single painting link two love stories — one in World I France, one in London 90 years later — in JoJo Moyes’ The Girl You Left Behind (Pamela Dorman/Viking, digital galley). In 1916, the Germans occupy a small village in northern France, home to 22-year-old Sophie LeFevre. Her husband Edouard is an artist being held in a “reprisal” camp, and Sophie makes dangerous sacrifices and compromises trying to keep her family alive and to reunite with Edouard.

In 2006 London, widowed 32-year-old Liv Halston’s most prized possession is the portrait “The Girl You Left Behind,” a gift from her late husband. But then the Lefevre family brings a restitution suit against Liv, claiming that the portrait of Sophie painted by Edouard rightfully belongs to them. To further complicate matters. Liv discovers that the new man in her life, Paul, is heading up the LeFevre’s case. The circumstances of the plot may come off as contrived, and the legal battle trifling compared to Sophie’s ordeal, but the actions and emotions of both heroines ring true to time and place.

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