It is 1998 and Emilie who is in her 30’s born to a father who lived through WWII who has many secrets. She never felt love from her mother, but has inherited her father’s love for knowledge. Emilie de la Martinières is also the last line in her family and does not have any other living relatives. After her mother dies she inherits her childhood château and vineyard, along with a huge amount of dept. While trying to pay her mother’s debts she falls madly in love with a total stranger who is also an art dealer who has his own secrets. Upon shifting through stacks of paper left by her dad and talking to an elderly gardener who’s work for her family all his like; Emilie learns more about her dad’s involvement in WWII and his connection to Constance Curruthers. In 1944 in a time when the Nazis occupy France; Constance is a British office clerk who becomes one of Churchill’s Special Operations Executives and companion to a young blind woman. Emilie is unaware of this connection and the château itself has left clues into revealing its past.
This book is clearly fiction, but it is also historical fiction, mystery and has a bit of romance. The author describes 1944 Paris as a place where trusting ones friends, family and even neighbors can lead you to jail or even to your death. It is a time where trusting anyone can be difficult. The author is great at details on character development (example: how her characters are able to trust one another and how they are able to navigate and survive in Nazi occupied France) and storyline (example: how does the past interact with the present). The story develops as each character develops whether they are from 1998 or 1944.
The mysteries themselves are not as apparent as most mysteries, but as the storyline evolves, there is a depth to them. Mystery #1. How did Emilie’s father survive the war and what role did Constance play? Mystery #2. Is Emilie’s husband as faithful, honest and charming as he leads her to believe?
There is a bit of romance when Emilie meets two of the grandson’s of Constance and as a reader you’re not sure who Emilie should ultimately end up with because there are so many lies and deception that you’re not sure what is fact and what is not. The evidence that helps Emilie reveal both brother’s true characters are not found until the end of the book. By then you’re happy that it is finally discovered and that she ends up falling with the right person.
Great book if you like mysteries that do not rely on dead bodies but how events from the past have effected the present. If you like strong character and plot development you will appreciate this book.
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