Good afternoon readers, hope you are well. I’m finally feeling a little better after a week of feeling under the weather. I’ve been struggling to get rid of this hacking cough and runny nose but I’m slowly, slowly turning it around. It’s been a reasonably busy week and I’m slowly working through my incredibly busy email inbox. If you are waiting for a review it is on the way and there are a number scheduled for next week which I’m super excited to share with you. Today’s review however is from Marilyn Chapman, sent through to me by the wonderful people at Publishing Push. A historical fiction and my favourite genre of book, would I fall in love with it as a story? Read on to find out.
When war baby Sophie joins the macho world of 1960s journalism she’s determined to prove that she’s ‘one of the boys’. Her career is threatened by a phone call from her estranged mother setting Sophie on a quest to uncover the secret of her birth. Was her father the all-American soldier she dreamt of when she was a child, or someone far more sinister? This is the story the ambitious reporter was destined to write. Helped by the charming but mysterious David, Sophie uncovers the story of a heartbroken wartime orphan, a GI romance and a terrifying rape that leads to an innocent man’s court martial – and finds clues to her own unhappy childhood. Torn between her secret love for Steve, the newspaper’s most eligible bachelor, and her desire to know who she really is, Sophie follows David to search for her father. Only when faced with the startling truth can she accept the tragedy of love, loss and betrayal, and begin a very different kind of future.
Powerful eh? I’m not sure how a lover of historical fiction could resist this step back in time to the 1960’s. As the blurb suggests the book follows Sophie as she joins the world of journalism however a worrying call from her mother sets her on course to discover the truth about her father. Was he an American soldier or is there something more terrifying that needs to be exposed. Sophie, with a little help from the impulsive David starts to unravel the truth about her past. I was really hooked by this novel almost from the first page. It helps that the plot line is so solid in its raw state as having that strong sense of direction in a novel really helps the author to pop in characters and weave them around the foundations of the storyline.
I found Sophie utterly delightful; watching her deal with the everyday challenges of working as a reporter and in an office was a great way to add depth to the character and pull the reader into the story. I warmed to her immediately and found myself really wishing her to succeed. She’s a little stubborn and obstinate but it only makes her all the more spunky and exciting to read about. Steve is also, slightly surprisingly, a very warm and sweet character despite calling Sophie ‘Frigidaire’ when she politely rebuffs his romantic advances. This is then contrasted with the spiteful character that is Frances, Sophie’s mother. However as we learn more about her past I softened and caved feeling sullen and sorry for her. For an author to weave this so skilfully is a lovely touch. Only small critique in terms of characters; I did guess David’s part in the story a little earlier on than I would have liked however it doesn’t detract from the story enough to really cause an issue. I just wish it could have been held back a little longer. Additionally I would have liked the romantic interest in the story to have taken more of a prominence in the book. I think there was potential there to weave another storyline but again another small critique.
Technically the writing style is solid, not too description, not too much dialogue and just the right pace. For this type of novel, although I want it to be pushing ahead, it’s more about unearthing the characters and to race it would be a shame but Marilyn manages it just right. I liked that as the narrative wore on the story is told between Sophie set in the 60’s and then back to her mother Frances in the 40’s. The contrasts made between the two eras are told with skill and dexterity which is really needed in historical fiction. I definitely felt transported to another time and that’s why I like historical fiction so much because of its potential to take you to another time and place.
This is a wonderful read full of delectable characters and a real understanding of what you need to spin a delightful historical fiction novel. The characters are warm, well built up and through this the twists and the turns of the book feel all the more real because you are so involved in their story. Overall a wonderful read and one I would definitely recommend. Will there be a sequel? I really hope so.