Last year I read Anita Abriel’s debut novel, The Light After the War, and it was good for a debut novel. I don’t know that I loved it, but I enjoyed it and was looking forward to seeing how her writing evolved in future books.
The author’s mother was a Holocaust survivor so it’s not surprise that the author drew in real events and personal history not only with her first novel but with this one as well. With having the first book under her belt, this was one I was really looking forward to exploring and seeing how things evolved from the first book to the second.
The author’s books aren’t a series, but there are clearly themes in both books that are similar and clearly close to her heart. This book was really up there on my anticipated list because the plot sounded dangerous. The main female character works as a spy to infiltrate the Nazi organization. While perhaps not unique in historical fiction, the way the story was described, promised tension and danger which made me really eager to read it.
The Light After the War, a riveting and heartfelt story of a young woman recruited to be a spy for the resistance on the French Riviera during World War II.
Paris 1943: Lana Antanova is on her way to see her husband with the thrilling news that she is pregnant. But when she arrives at the convent where he teaches music, she’s horrified to see Gestapo officers execute him for hiding a Jewish girl in the piano.
A few months later, grieving both her husband and her lost pregnancy, Lana is shocked when she’s approached to join the resistance on the French Riviera. As the daughter of a Russian countess, Lana has the perfect background to infiltrate the émigré community of Russian aristocrats who socialize with German officers, including the man who killed her husband.
Lana’s cover story makes her the mistress of Guy Pascal, a wealthy Swiss industrialist and fellow resistance member, in whose villa in Cap Ferrat she lives. Together, they gather information on upcoming raids and help members of the Jewish community escape. Consumed by her work, she doesn’t expect to become attached to a young Jewish girl or wonder about the secrets held by the man whose house she shares. And as the Nazis’ deadly efforts intensify, her intention to protect those around her may put them all at risk instead.
With Anita Abriel’s “heartfelt and memorable” (Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Lana’s War is a sweeping and suspenseful tale of survival and second chances during some of the darkest days of history. (summary from Goodreads)
I have come off a couple of more serious and emotional historical fiction reads lately which on one hand has been rewarding because emotional novels always stay with me for a while meaning I think about them long after I am done. But at the same time, I am going to need a break from more serious historical fiction such as this. This was a well written story that I enjoyed much more than her debut novel. This book packed a lot more emotion into it, something that I expected in the first book but felt wasn’t delivered. However in this book, I think the author delivered.
Lana was a wonderful character study in strength and heroism. I can’t imagine going through the kind of loss that she experienced but watching her rise above it and to use that anger and loss—to do something with it, was really wonderful to watch unfold on the pages. Lana was a wonderful character and I really enjoyed her as well as the other characters in the novel.
As far as history goes, this book is set during WWII obviously, which clearly is a time period full of novels right? Well this one sets itself aside by being set in the south of France. While occupied Paris is often the go to for WWII era novels, this one takes us to a more exotic destination and to perhaps show us how other areas in France were dealing with the war and the Nazi occupation. I thought it added a lot of interest for me as it felt different and not quite like everything else I have read.
The only thing that I felt was a little lacking in this was the romance element. I didn’t quite buy into the romance in the way that I was hoping. For me it felt flat and unnecessary really to the larger story. The story was strong without the romance so if left me feeling like the romance was simply thrown in. It wasn’t terrible but I felt as though the story was strong enough on its own.
If you are a fan of historical fiction though, this was a wonderful read. It had a lot of emotion and history that will keep readers interested and enjoying the book.
Book Info and Writing
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 12th 2021 by Atria Books
ISBN1982147679 (ISBN13: 9781982147679)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Atria Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: historical fiction