Ya’ll know how much of a sucker I am for WWII romances and historical fiction (which generally includes some kind of romantic element). I just can’t say no and that lovely cover just drew me in. Lately I’ve been reading some easy romances and a couple of solid thrillers so I haven’t really been in the mood to snag a more emotional war time novel but this one just stood out and I knew it was something that I would most likely love.
I also love the Cornish coast so any book set there is a win-win for me. Author Melanie Hudson’s debut novel, The Last Letter from Juliet, was a bestseller and secured many new fans for her work. I haven’t read her debut novel but it sounded like a bit hit! So when this one came up for review, I didn’t hesitate to review it knowing how popular her first book was even if I hadn’t read it.
This book is certainly for fans of Kate Quinn as well as Pam Jenoff, this book has so many great things, history, war, emotion, love, loss, and all the feels. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to more books from Hudson! As a relatively new voice in historical fiction, it is exciting to see how strong this novel was!
A train journey into the past
A love that echoes through time
Paddington Station, present day
A young woman boards the sleeper train to Cornwall with only a beautiful emerald silk evening dress and an old, well-read diary full of sketches. Ellie Nightingale is a shy violinist who plays like her heart is broken. But when she meets fellow passenger Joe she feels like she has been given that rarest of gifts…a second chance.
Paddington Station, 1944
Beneath the shadow of the war which rages across Europe, Alex and Eliza meet by chance. She is a gutsy painter desperate to get to the frontline as a war artist and he is a wounded RAF pilot now commissioned as a war correspondent. With time slipping away they make only one promise: to meet in Berlin when this is all over. But this is a time when promises are hard to keep, and hope is all you can hold in your heart.
From a hidden Cornish cove to the blood-soaked beaches of Normandy in June 1944, this is an epic love story like no other. Perfect for fans of Pam Jenoff, Kate Quinn, Rachel Hore and Kate Furnivall. (summary from Goodreads)
One of the things that really stood out to me in this book was the authenticity feel. Sometimes with war novels, it can be hard to capture the conditions of the war both on the battlefield and the home front when the author is far removed from the time period and setting. What I have seen that some authors have done is drawn from primary sources in some way to give the story and authentic feel and that’s how this novel felt. Hudson did a great job capturing the atmosphere of the time period and the tension of the war. The characters also felt very authentic with depth and historically fitting. I loved the historical parts of the novel for this very reason. I felt like I was reading very relatable people who fit within a believable historic setting.
This book also has a modern day portion to it and I actually felt really invested in that storyline as well. That isn’t always the case for me but in this one it felt balanced like the author was intentional about making both stories stand out. Sometimes the modern day part is just to serve as the catalyst for the larger historical narrative but in this one it felt important in its own right too. The stories of Ellie and Eliza were compelling and interesting and didn’t feel like the ‘typical’ duel narratives that I have read. Both of the women have unique circumstances that lead them to Cornwall and for Eliza to France.
There were a couple of chapters from Alex’s perspective which were important to the larger story though I don’t know if I would have chosen to add another POV to the story but generally it worked and it did have an impact to the story but for me it felt off to have his POV sprinkled in this one. Overall though this was a wonderful read and I really enjoyed the romance, the history and the narratives. If you love historical fiction set during WWII with some romance to it then this is a book you want to get on your radar for the spring! I loved how unique it felt in a sea of WWII novels, this one stood out and distinguishes itself!
Book Info and Rating
Format: 400 pages paperback
Published: July 22, 2021 by One More Chapter.
Free review copy provided by publisher, One More Chapter, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: historical fiction, war fiction/romance