Review: If I Could Tell You by Elizabeth Wilhide

Ahhh war romances how I love you! When this one came across my desk for review, I jumped at the chance to review it. The description was tantalizing and I just knew I had to read this one!

For some reason I just love books about ill-fated or impossible romances and while this one had an adultery element, that wasn’t a deal breaker for me….in fact I was curious to see how that angle would work within the story.

England, 1939: Julia Compton has a beautifully well-ordered life. Once a promising pianist, she now has a handsome husband, a young son she adores, and a housekeeper who takes care of her comfortable home. Then, on the eve of war, a film crew arrives in her coastal town. She falls in love.

The consequences are devastating. Penniless, denied access to her son, and completely unequipped to fend for herself, she finds herself adrift in wartime London with her lover, documentary filmmaker Dougie Birdsall. While Dougie seeks truth wherever he can find it, Julia finds herself lost.

As the German invasion looms and bombs rain down on the city, she faces a choice—succumb to her fate, or fight to forge a new identity in the heat of war (Summary from Goodreads).

From the outside, Julia had the picture perfect life making some readers wonder why she would have an affair, but the heart wants what the heart wants and while I didn’t always agree with her actions I didn’t feel like I was in a position to judge her as a reader. It was hard to fault her when Dougie pursued her so relentlessly, sure her husband was a decent guy but this new love interest had a fire about him that her husband just didn’t have.

To me this seemed very real life, marriages don’t always dissolve because the husband is a jerk, sometimes love just isn’t everlasting and people simply fall out of love with each other or sometimes life and circumstances beyond the couples control also change (like a war) and the couple just can’t reconcile their marriage, these were themes that played out well in this book.

What I liked about this novel was that Wilhide showed the consequences of Julia’s choices. Ironically life isn’t exactly what Julie intends when she throws in her towel with Dougie. She finds that grass isn’t always greener which I thought was an interesting angel. Sometimes in books with adultery themes, the woman leaves her husband and everything is fine with a happily ever after which isn’t always accurate so I liked that the author portrayed this.

While I didn’t mind the adultery angle and I thought that the time period worked well in the story, I felt like the book was lacking a little luster. Not all romances are created equal in my book and this one fell a little short when it came to pace. There were parts in the book that seemed to drag on more than necessary. In addition to the pace, I could not connect with Dougie at all. Julia I could sympathize with and not judge but when it came to Dougie, something about his character just rang false to me and I never could invest in his character.

I absolutely love the cover! The cover really grabbed me and I immediately wanted to read this one just based on that. So well done cover artist!

The time period worked well in this novel and like I said, I love war romances but in this case I think this book could have been much better had the pace picked up in parts and had Dougie been a little more likable or perhaps just more ‘real’. Other reviewers have criticized that they did not feel connected to either character, but I at least liked Julia, but as I said, Dougie just wasn’t for me for some reason. While I loved aspects of this book, I couldn’t wholeheartedly give it a higher rating.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: If I Could Tell You by Elizabeth Wilhide

  • Kindle Edition, 320 pages
    Published February 28th 2017 by Penguin Books (first published February 6th 2016)
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 3 out of 5

Genre: War romance, women’s fiction, romance, WWII, historical fiction

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