Opening Line: “I was dreaming of food. Crisp baguettes, the fresh of the bread, a virginal white, still steaming from the oven, and ripe cheese, its borders creeping towards the edge of the plate.”
I loved, loved, loved the first part of this book which takes place in 1916 German occupied France (an apparently largely unrecorded corner of First World War history) I mean I was right there with our heroine Sophie and her family at their hotel La Coq Rouge. I could hear the German soldier’s boots marching by on the cobbled streets, I was anguished by the decisions she was forced to make, and I felt her hunger, anxiety, and the cold.
I feared for her husband fighting on the front lines and laughed with the rest of the townsfolk at the “pig baby.” And when the Kommandant started to show an interest in Sophie and the portrait her husband had painted of her I knew nothing good would come of their “arrangement” but I also didn’t expect the brutal reality of what did happen. I’m totally rambling here but this was just so good.
I was jarred back to reality when in Part 2 the book switched to 2006 London. Suddenly I’m reading texts and e-mails, riding in cabs, swearing and drinking too much wine in gay bars. It was like starting another book altogether and honestly it took me a while to get with the program, to get into Liv’s equally heartbreaking story.
I eventually did find Liv almost as interesting as Sophie as she struggles with the death of her husband and tries to hang onto the painting he bought her on their honeymoon. The painting that “TARP” is now trying to get her to return to its rightful owners as it has been earmarked as stolen by the Nazi’s. Liv was also put in an impossible situation by circumstances beyond her control and then to have the awesomely played twist of who her new boyfriend Paul is as well.
Towards the end there is a court case and the story seemed to waffle a bit and go on (and on) but I loved the outcome, especially when we get to see a glimpse of a quiet, reserved couple living in the Swiss Alps. That made me smile. Pretty excellent all in.
Moyes is a definite auto buy and I can’t wait to see what adventures await from her back list. Cheers.