This book weaves between two timelines of a family. Roberta works in a bookstore, she finds bits of paper, old letters and photos in old books brought in for sale and keep them. When her father brings in a suitcase filled with her grandmothers books, her grandmother being 109 and placed into a home, she finds an old letter that is a bit of a mystery as it was written by her grandfather who was thought to have been dead before the letter was written.
In the mid 30’s Dorothy marries a man who her mothers disapproves of. She suffers a series of miscarriages and her husband isn’t happy as he is being ridiculed in the village. She is desperately unhappy and longs to be a mother. WW2 breaks out and Albert, Dorothy’s husband, joins the army. A series of events introduces her to Jan Pietrykowski, a Polish Squadron Leader quite a few years younger than her. Dorothy is alone and longs for love and the advances of Jan are a balm to her aching soul.
Back in today’s timeline Roberta is happy in her work but not in her life. She hasn’t been very successful when it comes to relationships and longs to be loved. She suffers a series of tragedies and realizes that what she wants is love but it seems to elude her. She tries to figure out what secrets are behind the letter to her grandmother, but as her gran is suffering from dementia, answers are hard to get.
The weaving of the stories lines is wonderful. You really feel for these women and what they endure, especially Dorothy. She and Roberta long for something that for a long time eludes them both.
I also loved that Roberta’s parts in the book start with a letter or a photo that she finds in an old book. What I didn’t like was the desperation to be defined as a mother or as a lover. While both of these women are strong in their own ways their need, and in the case of Dorothy scheming, to achieve their dreams is a bit manic. Roberta’s story seems get pushed aside in favor of Dorothy’s and I would have like to have heard more of hers. There are many secrets in this book and loss as well.
Buy: Amazon UK