During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy. Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.
My take: 4 looks
This one started off a little slowly for me. So slowly, in fact that I didn't know if I would enjoy it.
However, once the characters were established, and I got into the rhythm of the story moving back and forth in time, I was able to enjoy it very much.
Dolly and Vivien were very interesting characters, and the supporting players were just as lively (thinking of Lady Caldicott). I was at first confused by Jimmy's draw to Dolly, as she seemed to be very high maintenance, but then I came to understand as the story moved along.
In present day, the siblings gathering to honor and then say goodbye to their mother was just as compelling. I very much enjoyed Laurel's story and would like to read a book based more on her life, and not just the effects of this particular story at this particular time. She seemed nicely drawn and complex, as opposed to the others.
But what will get you is the incredible tablecloth-removal-trick as the story draws to a close. I had to go back and reread a few pages to make sure I had understood what I thought had happened. It was a clincher at its best, and one I never saw coming. The last several chapters make the entire book worthwhile.