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I loved The Stolen Letter but this one has to be the best. Beautiful story of two sister's and their love for the same man... A jealous brother and a strict Mother, a brilliant story that I wished didn't have to end
The story is a good one and the characters well filled out. The issue I had with it is the WW2 history and setting is not very good. The author clearly has only superficial knowledge and the editor less so. A good editor could have cleaned up the errors without detracting from the story. The main character in 1950 casually says during the war she tried for SOE but was not good enough. In 1950 she would have been under the official secrets act still, further at the point she failed the course she may not have known it was SOE. The unoccupied zone is exactly that unoccupied - there are no German soldiers wandering about.
In Darkness Look For Stars by Clara Benson is a historical fiction set set in a duel timeline of the second world war and also after, 1949-50. We are plunged into the story right from the beginning when Flight Lieutenant Alec McLeod is forced to bail from his plane in the French countryside, mission abandoned. Injured, lying in a field in France he expects to be captured. Maggie, is a member of the resistance and finds him and so he is instead whirled away to safety. Maggie is a rebel daughter of a famous musical family but defied everyone to become part of the resistance.Her mother Rose is busy courting anyone and everyone to aid Maggie's brother, Sebastian further his musical career while her sister Cecilia is in the South of France still shielded from the realities of war. Maggie falls in love with a fellow resistance fighter, Emil, who is also a Jew and when Maggie has no choice but to send him to Cecilia for his safety, she is educated more than she ever expected. The story moves to Hertfordshire in 1949, Harriet Conway, who is a woman who has suffered losses of her own begins work for Rose. As time passes she realises that Rose and her family have suffered losses also and soon begins to find out the family secrets. I found the book which spans a very important decade and brings two people, who never met, Maggie and Harriet , together in the way that their stories intertwine and, yes, it can be heartbreaking but there is love to be found also. Clara Benson has written a very emotional and enthralling story and brough to life her characters which make the story even more powerful. I loved being a part of this Blog Tour and thanks to Sarah Hardy of BOTBS Publicity and Bookouture.
I love Clara Benson's witty whodunnits and was keen to read this book. It is in an entirely different genre, a deeply serious and very intense family drama set during and after World War 2. It opens with an airman, Alec McLeod, having been forced to parachute from his Spitfire into occupied France. A young resistance worker, Maggie Brouillard, arranges for him to be hidden and helped to escape. This is his firt encounter with the Brouillard family, whom he is to encounter next in post-war England. There is Rose, the matriarch, Cecilia, her disabled daughter and Sebastien, her surviving son, all of them musicians living out the heritage of their famous composer father and still wrestling with the damage done to their family by their experiences during the war. Maggie and another brother are dead. This book is very well-researched and has all the ingredients of a thoroughly engrossing story - wartime adventure, family tensions, music, ambition, romance. I found it readable and, at times, almost unbearably tense and tragic. I also felt faintly disgusted. (I'm truly sorry about this, since I hate being cruel to authors. They have poured themselves onto the page, making themselves very vulnerable iin the process.) The book read like a carefully-planned bid at producing a best-seller, not always skilfully written. The worst thing about it was the fact that the characters were unconvincing, as though they had been manipulated in order to make the story come to the right dramatic ending. With greater skill, these could have been written convincingly and the events would them have arisen from character, which is the right way to make a novel flow. The secretary, Harriet's motives were particularly unconvincing when, for example, she read private documents not intended for her. I had the feeling that she had to read them in order to carry the story forward. The little boy, Rex, was not drawn with enough sympathy and depth. Rose was just thoroughly nasty and I did not see why her adult children should obey her so slavishly. I know from real-life experiences how much a cruel and manipulative mother can damage her children, but real mothers have more than one dimension. We did not glimpse how Rose herself suffered, in order to make her such a foul human being. Emil was selfish and deeply flawed and I could not see why he inspired such devotion from two women. A better writer would have made me see it. Sebastien I found reasonably convincing until he caused the dramatic ending of the book. OTT and turgid are the expressions that come to mind then (and at other points of the book). Other people loved this book so I may be completely off-the-wall. In a way, I hope I am. However, I wished Clara Benson had stuck to light-hearted humour and mystery.
I did want to keep reading and the characters were strongly drawn, however, the story never really pulled me enough. Surely, someone working with the French resistance wouldn't give that information to their young brother, and to let him know what was happening. Sebastian was pretty unbelievable and reminded me of Mr Rochester's wife in Jane Eyre. In fact Rose wasn't easy to believe in either as she was just so extreme. As for Cecilia, well I could just about believe in her some of the time. The writing otherwise did provide hooks and made me want to know more but the characters that held my attention most were Harriet, Alec and Emil. They seemed far more real than any of the others. I suppose what I'm saying is that I felt the story had too many weaknesses for my enjoyment.
This is a really accomplished novel that sucks you right in and doesn't let you go. Harriet uncovers Cecilia and her family's mysterious past - and it really is full of bombshells in this dual timeline set in occupied France and 1950s England. The pace is leisurely but the plot is fantastically twisty, the dialogue all plausible and the characters and their relationships with each other are all very real. I think its a really impressive book and would recommend it to anyone especially lovers of wartime fiction.
I choose this book because I liked the title. But I fell in love with this book. Totally enjoyed it., how you can have it all rapped up and picture the end then it grabs you and leads you in another direction. Good writing. Thank you for writing this book.
The story was so intense that I had to put it down until I had recovered from the events as they unfolded and then I read another instalment.It was fascinating and had a satisfactory ending. Brilliant.
Having read and enjoyed all Clara's previous books, I was looking forward to reading this one, which I very soon realised is in a different league. It is a fantastic story of love and loss, set in wartime France and in England immediately post-war. The characters are well-realised and their story has stayed with me ever since I finished the book. I get the feeling this is the "book of her heart", and I absolutely loved it.
I liked the French WW2 element of the story. I wish there had been more about France and the German occupation. Ultimately the story was too slow for me and not enough action. Hard to put yourself there. When it flashed back to after the war, back in England, it lost it. So dreary.