“England, 1947: A young woman finds herself under close observation in an insane asylum, charged with a violent crime she has no memory of committing. As she tries to make sense of her recent past, she recalls very little.
But she still remembers wartime in Yugoslavia. There she and her lover risked everything to carry out dangerous work resisting the Germans—a heroic campaign in which many brave comrades were lost. After that, the trail disappears into confusion. How did she come to be trapped in a living nightmare?
As she struggles to piece together the missing years of her life, she will have to confront the harrowing experiences of her special-operations work and peacetime marriage. Only then can she hope to regain the vital memories that will uncover the truth: is she really a violent criminal…or was she betrayed?”
The basis of this story was so intriguing. The blurb captured me and I just had to read the book. The writing was fluent and pictorial. You could imagine yourself there. The story is told in first person, passing back and forth between the main character’s (MC) present day and through flashbacks. The dialogue and self-talk felt authentic and surpassed my expectation. In fact, I was a bit caught off guard at the verity with which the author presented the feelings of the MC, Maud/Amber. You could actually visualize and feel the things Maud saw and felt herself; the surrender of her sanity and memory to the trauma she’d experienced. All the characters were believable, even if not likeable. Graham is an excellent author with a clear expertise of the written word. She narrates in such a way that you get a feel for what it may have truly been like for the people of the time and setting.
Though engaging, the story moved forward at a slow pace in the beginning, but I attribute this to the fact that the story is being ‘told’ by the MC, who is, herself, very slowly remembering the fragments of her life that she has forgotten. This novel resonated with me profoundly. I was mortified, outraged, and even became viscerally incensed as Maud came to the realization of all that occurred that took her to the point of withering sanity. As she comes to grips with the trials she faced-how she was manipulated, exploited, betrayed, and unscrupulously robbed of her identity and life, I openly wept with sympathy for her.
Oh my word! The plot development was very taut and engrossing. As Maud’s story unfolds against the background of WWII Yugoslavia, Graham easily maneuvers between ‘present’ and ‘past’ during moments of memory, thoughts, and through sessions with her therapist. As Maud struggles to recall the events of her former life, from which she feels so detached; she is unsure what is real and what she may have imagined. Was she really a secret operative for the Allies in the Balkans during war? Or is this some trick of imagination conjured up in her addled brain? It is more towards the second half of the book, that we come to know the truth and can catch glimpses of a future, possibly happier life for our heroine. No spoilers, so I will not go further into the storyline.
I found this book immensely enjoyable. I loved the arc of the story. I also liked the bits of history I learned while reading it. In fact, I plan to read and learn more on the subject. It was easy and pleasant to read. I feel it is historical fiction, mixed with suspense, drama, and mystery. A sensational novel that is both compelling and inspiring. 5/5
This book was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley. all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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