Thursday, 23 January 2020

Burning Island by Suzanne Goldring
Release Date:  22nd January 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genres: Historical Fiction

They were not her children. But she would protect them with her life…

Corfu 1944. Though they don’t know it, five-year-old Matilde and three-year-old Anna have kissed their mother for the last time. The Nazis have reached their sun-scorched home, and they are being taken to a place of safety, on the north-eastern tip of the rocky island, to be hidden at great risk by kindly Agata and her husband until the terrible war is over.

Matilde and Anna’s tears are soothed by Agata’s bedtime stories, but she is always alert. So far no soldiers have ventured down the steep rocky hillside to their secret haven, but Agata knows they are constantly scouring the island for missing Jews. And then, on a day when Agata’s husband is away, a German soldier appears…

2016. Under a baking June sun, Amber and her husband arrive in Corfu from England, hoping for a fresh start. But not everyone is pleased by their arrival, and with the pressures of pregnancy, the couple grow further apart. Desperate to find a sense of belonging for herself and her unborn child, Amber finds herself drawn to the local story of two little girls, left by their parents and hidden for their own protection.

But there are some who would rather Amber left Corfu’s terrible history well in the past. Can Amber uncover the heart-breaking truth about the two little girls, and what happened after a German soldier took a swim in the bay by their house? If she does, can the secrets of the past help her find happiness, or will they send her running from the island, alone?

A gripping, heart-wrenching and compelling read about the shadows at the heart of the sun-drenched island of Corfu and survival against all odds. Fans of Victoria Hislop, The Nightingale and The Tattooist of Auschwitz will fall in love with Burning Island.

Burning Island is a story of 2 halves with different timelines weaving 2 stories, intrinsically linked. The setting is the beautiful island of Corfu and Amber and James have relocated there after walking away from the drudge of life in London.  The year is 2016 and they've had enough of cold winters and jobs that no longer inspire them or motivate them. Their dream to move away to warmer climes and open a restaurant soon becomes reality when they are given the opportunity to work for James's friend in Corfu. However, the dream isn't all they thought it would turn out to be.  Other people have a different agenda, forming a wedge between the couple. Their story is told from the different perspectives of Amber and James.

The other story running alongside James's and Amber's is set in Corfu also but in 1944. Imagine being put in the position of giving away 2 of your 3 children in order to save their lives. That's the decision that Jewish couple Perla and her husband Issac must make. The German army have landed in Corfu. The island is caught up in war and the soldiers only know about one of their children, not all 3. A couple on the island will risk everything, including their lives to protect the children. 

The story spans across the years when Amber hears about the bravery and the death that took place on Corfu all those years ago and Corfu will never be the same for her.

I love a book with a dual timeline and I particularly love one with a dual timeline done well. Suzanne Goldring has excelled herself with this book. Like Amber, I am ashamed to say that I knew little of Corfu's history and its place in the second world war. The harrowing experiences of the Jewish people living on Corfu are written sensitively but in a way that made me weep for them. The book is very much character lead and while I found it difficult to connect with the modern characters, apart from Inge and Marian, the characters from 1944 totally blew me away and they are wonderfully written. There is real emotional investment for the reader. A great book. Would definitely recommend. Suzanne Goldring has now become a favourite author. 


Following an eventful career as a public relations consultant, specialising in business and travel, Suzanne Goldring turned to writing the kind of novels she likes to read, about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Her debut novel MY NAME IS EVA draws on her experience of volunteering in a care home and was partially inspired by a cache of wartime love letters which were saved from the flames. Her second novel, BURNING ISLAND, is set in Corfu, a place of fun and beauty but also tremendous tragedy.

Suzanne writes in her thatched cottage in Hampshire and a seaside cottage in Cornwall. 

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