Thursday, 15 October 2015

A Kiss From France by Susan Hughes
Release Date:19 July 2015 p/back; 29 July 2015 e-book 
Publisher:  Silverwood Books
Genres: Historical Fiction / Romance

London, 1917. Lizzie Fenwick is young, ambitious, and in love. At least, she thinks she's in love with the soldier who answered the note she concealed in a box of ammunition shells. She spends her days filling shells with TNT, and her nights dreaming of the mysterious Harry Slater. 

Eunice Wilson knows the exact moment her marriage to Jack began to fracture. He refused to enlist, and their patriotic neighbours never let her live it down. Now he's been conscripted and she can't help but feel regret for shunning Jack before his departure.
As separate tragedies cause Lizzie to make hard choices and Eunice to cope with loss, the two women are unsure how to adjust when peace finally returns. Little do they know that an earlier war-time betrayal will force Lizzie and Eunice to confront everything they knew about friendship, loyalty, and love.

A Kiss From France is a historical fiction romance novel set in London's East End during World War I. If you like compelling human stories, believable female protagonists, and the suspense and intrigue of war-time London, then you'll love this heartfelt tale of two women who yearn to feel alive in a broken world.

If you like historical fiction, particularly war-time fiction then this book is for you. The story follows Lizzie Fenwick during the 1st World War as she works in a munitions factory. The work is  hard yet there is a sense of satisfaction amongst the women that they are contributing to the war effort. They may not be out on the front lines but they are fighting their own battles back home. Lizzie doesn't quite seem to fit in with the other girls in the factory. She has a couple of friends she'd consider close but really they are work colleagues - Eunice and Peggy. Their boss seems to favour Lizzie and she is able to use that to her advantage at times. This favouritism will be the thing that Lizzie will so desperately need in difficult times to come.

Lizzie puts a note in a munitions box and never for one moment suspected that a soldier on the front line would respond to it. And so begins a correspondence between them that seems to help them through the terrors of war. When the opportunity to meet arises, Lizzie finds herself falling hard for her soldier. Yet, all is not what it seems and Lizzie soon ends up with more than she bargains for. But there is more sadness and indeed a few twists and turns to come Lizzie's way and some of it did make me sit with my mouth open! Whilst Lizzie is of course our main protagonist, her friends Eunice and Peggy each have their own stories throughout the book and I have to say, I found both quite tragic and profoundly sad. Eunice is a woman who has been through so much grief that it is difficult for the reader to comprehend the level of her heartache. Her coldness towards her husband who has been fighting on the front line is at first startling. However, all is not as it seems with Eunice and her story goes so much deeper. Peggy appears to be the cocky one out of the three of them. However, there's more that meets the eye with Peggy and like Eunice and indeed Lizzie, she is fighting her own personal demons. Whilst a difficult person at times, I feel that Peggy is complex and interesting and there's a book somewhere waiting to be written about her. She definitely has her own story to tell.
The research behind this book is clearly evident and the reader is transported back to a time when trying to exist during the war was a real hardship. Its difficult to appreciate how families struggled during this time and this book highlights this very clearly.  What the book also highlights very effectively is the struggle of women during this time and some of their battles with regards to equality. And, despite holding the country together when the men were called up, Women were regarded as nothing more than a poor substitute to a working man with little respect given. Decisions about their lives were made for them with little opportunity for change. Susan Hughes has written an interesting book that I really enjoyed. Her characters are well developed and each brought something special to the book. The story was well thought out and researched and the writing style was excellent, keeping the reader engaged throughout. The ending has been written in a way that screams out for a sequel and this clever piece of writing has left the reader desperate to no more about characters they have now become invested in. I'll definitely be reading more Susan Hughes! A recommended read! 

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About the Author

Susan Hughes grew up near a small mining village in Northumberland, England. When she didn’t have her nose in a book and, careless of the class and gender expectations of her upbringing, she was climbing trees, catching water boatmen in a jar from a nearby burn or go-karting round country lanes with the kids next door before taking herself off to University.
A career in the City of London during the frenetic ‘Big Bang’ boom of financial de-regulation was followed my marriage, children and a desire for a change of gear. A move to the rural West Country enabled her to raise her sons near the coast and indulge her penchant for visiting stately piles while finding time to keep up her reading habit.
After she found a handful of WW1 silk postcards among her grandmother’s possessions, the romantic greeting on one of them inspired her to weave a story around its imagined sender and recipient. It became her first novel, A Kiss from France. She is now working on her second book send in inter-war London.

2 Responses so far.

  1. I like that it's a contrast of black and white and coloured.

  2. I like the use of a black and white photograph in the background. It gives the book a lovely authentic feel, capturing the time in which the book is set perfectly.

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