Veteran authors, Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, really are a winning team if you ask me! I have loved many of their novels and when I saw this one was coming out I just knew I had to get my hands on it! Each author has their own unique voice and style but at the end of the day, they blend together so well that their books never feel disjointed or confusing.
Sometimes with multiple authors, it can be hard to marry the two different voices to create a well written story, but I have never felt like that with Gaynor and Webb. I have read their own independent novels as well as their collaborative works and I always finish their books feeling like I read a well written book with interesting characters and voices!
The other things that drew me into this book was that it featured the RMS Queen Mary. The Queen Mary is like the more modern version of the Titanic…a luxurious boat tailored to the upper crust of society. I didn’t know too much about the Queen Mary prior to reading this book but I did know that it was a fancy-schmancy ship for it’s time so I was eager to learn more!
From Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, the bestselling authors of Meet Me in Monaco, comes a coming-of-age novel set in pre-WWII Europe, perfect for fans of Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Kate Quinn.
Three cities, two sisters, one chance to correct the past . . .
New York, 1937: When estranged sisters Clara and Madeleine Sommers learn their grandmother is dying, they agree to fulfill her last wish: to travel across Europe—together. They are to deliver three letters, in which Violet will say goodbye to those she hasn’t seen since traveling to Europe forty years earlier; a journey inspired by famed reporter, Nellie Bly.
Clara, ever-dutiful, sees the trip as an inconvenient detour before her wedding to millionaire Charles Hancock, but it’s also a chance to embrace her love of art. Budding journalist Madeleine relishes the opportunity to develop her ambitions to report on the growing threat of Hitler’s Nazi party and Mussolini’s control in Italy.
Constantly at odds with each other as they explore the luxurious Queen Mary, the Orient Express, and the sights of Paris and Venice,, Clara and Madeleine wonder if they can fulfill Violet’s wish, until a shocking truth about their family brings them closer together. But as they reach Vienna to deliver the final letter, old grudges threaten their reconciliation again. As political tensions rise, and Europe feels increasingly volatile, the pair are glad to head home on the Hindenburg, where fate will play its hand in the final stage of their journey (summary from Goodreads)
This was just the book for my summer! Since I couldn’t go on any big trips this year (thanks COVID), I got to venture all over Europe on an elegant cruise ship thanks to this book! It was a wonderful read for adventure and escapism. If you are stuck home this summer (or fall!) then this is the book you want to get loaded on your device or pick up in the store! It was super fun to ‘visit’ all the locations with Clara and Madeleine. I also loved that it was a sister-sister journey. My sister and I are not that close so it was fun to explore this sibling relationship. I always dreamed of traveling the world with my sister but we have a big age gap and different lives so reading a book like this was a nice way to live that dream vicariously!
I liked how Clara and Madeleine’s relationship was the central focus of this book, it is very much a story about sisters and forgiveness. While not overly emotional, it was a great portrayal of the challenges and complexities of women and sisters. It struck a good balance between emotion and keeping it light. When I picked this one up I wasn’t really in the mood for something gut-wrenching and heavy but I also didn’t just want to read mindless fluff either. So this book found that delicate balance for me that I was craving! For me personally, I saw myself more in Madeleine but in reality I am probably more like Clara.
I think the only part that I wanted more of was more history of the ship. The book did a great job capturing the pre WWII political climate, but I felt like we only scratched the surface of the Queen Mary and its history. It would have been nice to have a little more history too just because I like history and that as one of the reasons I picked this one up—for more on the ship. But then again I wasn’t looking for a book ON the Queen Mary, but I would have liked to have seen it take a more active role in the story. Overall this was a wonderful option for summer reading and I loved my time with the characters!
Book Info and Rating
Format 400 pages, Paperback
PublishedJuly 27, 2021 by William Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN9780062965240 (ISBN10: 0062965247)
Free review copy provided by publisher, William Morrow in partnership with Tall Poppy Writers/Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: historical fiction