James Acton has come to the village of Upton to begin again. As his grief over the death of his wife eases, he hopes to find new purpose as the vicar of this small Hampshire parish, still emerging from the long shadow of the the war.
James’s own war was in the Western Desert, where he fell in love, first with the thrill of being a Hurricane pilot and then with Yvette Haddad, a captivating, enigmatic young Alexandrian with a penchant for driving dangerously.
The past has a way of clinging to us, and even as James embarks on new beginnings, finding friends – and even love – among the people of Upton, the secrets he has held on to so tightly for years threaten to break loose. But Yvette had secrets too, and as James follows a trail that leads him back through the landscape of their marriage, what he discovers about both of them will change everything…
Thank you to the publisher for the early copy of this novel, I enjoyed We Must Be Brave (reviewed here), so was delighted to have the opportunity to read this book. This was a marvellous work of historical fiction, a love story, the tale of James Acton and Yvette who met in Egypt during the war and then came to England and settled as James fulfilled his vocation as a vicar. Yvette is 10 years deceased but this story is beautifully written in a then and now format. We hear from Yvette as she writes her memoirs as her life draws to an end, James is in the present day which is 1974, England as he moves to a new parish, a new beginning.
This book was beautifully written and I found myself engrossed in James and Yvette’s story, a story of love but a marriage with all the challenges, the ups and downs that life can bring. A terrific cast of supporting characters in the present day story added depth and I was delighted to notice some cameos from the author’s previous work, We Must Be Brave.
The writing was eloquent and detailed and made for a tangible read. If you enjoyed We Must Be Brave then I am certain you will like this one, but Still Life by Sarah Winman also comes to mind as a comparable read, so again for fans of that and especially anyone who enjoys war time historical fiction.
Thank you again to the publishers for this magnificent read.
About the Author
Frances Liardet is a child of the children of the Second World War. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and studied Arabic at Oxford before travelling to Cairo to work as a translator. She currently lives in Somerset, England, with her husband and daughter, and runs a summer writing session called Bootcamp. Think of Me is her third novel.