Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Sister Reads | Review: The Light Behind the Window/The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley

Book: The Light Behind The Window aka The Lavender Garden

Author: Lucinda Riley

Pages: 544

I Read It In: 7 hours across 2 evenings

Plot Summary: The present: Emilie de la Martiniéres has always fought against her aristocratic background, but after the death of her glamorous, distant mother, she finds herself alone in the world and sole inheritor of her grand childhood home in the south of France. 

An old notebook of poems leads her in search of the mysterious and beautiful Sophia, whose tragic love affair changed the course of her family history. As Emilie unravels the story, she too embarks on her own journey of discovery, realising that the château may provide clues to her own difficult past and finally unlock the future. 

The past: London 1943. A young office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is drafted into the SOE, arriving in occupied Paris during the climax of the conflict. Separated from her contact in her very first hours in France, she stumbles into the heart of a wealthy family who are caught up in a deadly game of secrets and lies. Forced to surrender her identity and all ties to her homeland and her beloved husband, Constance finds herself drawn into a complex web of deception, the repercussions of which will affect generations to come. 

From the author of the international bestseller, Hothouse Flower, Lucinda Riley’s new novel is a breathtaking and intense story of love, war and, above all, forgiveness.

What I Liked: I really enjoyed Lucinda Riley's The Midnight Rose (click on the link to see my review of it) and was looking forward to reading more books by her. I really enjoy books that shift perspectives between two or more time periods/places because you get to see a different set of characters in each period and there is usually some mystery or just some twist-in-the-tale element to the narrative, which keeps it interesting. So, needless to say, I quite enjoyed the two time periods that this book's events took place in- late 1990s and the early 1940s (World War II). 

The events of the past were far more interesting to me- they always are in most books of this format, perhaps because that's where the big mystery takes place?! So, yes, I liked the cat-and-mouse spy games type of a thing going on the 1940s- the gritty business of the Resistance trying to outwit the Gestapo in Paris etc. 

The characters in this book were also likeable- more so, the ones in the 1940s- like Constance, Edouard (Emilie's father) and Sophia (Emilie's aunt). The sense of purpose and fighting the good fight against all odds made each of these characters very layered and memorable. 

What I Didn't Like: The core mystery was really silly and kind of lame. It was not even such a mystery or a twist. It does not in any major way impact the lives of those in the present and it seems almost irrelevant to the present-day plot. Also, the present day characters were not interesting at all. They seemed more like cardboard caricatures without any real soul. 

Would You Like It?: I don't think so. There are far better books on the whole dual-time-period theme to read.. such as the ones by Kate Morton. Please see this list to see some more books that have this sort of a theme.  

Rating: 2.5/5 

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