I hoped that I would love ‘The Light Behind the Window’ as much as I loved ‘The Girl on the Cliff,’ I really did. But I didn’t.
There’s no doubt at all that you know how to spin a story.
Emilie de la Marinieres travelled from Paris to her family home, a grand chateau in southern France, when she learned that her mother was gravely ill. They hadn’t been close: Emilie couldn’t understand how her mother found such joy in life as a socialite, and her mother couldn’t understand why her daughter had turned her back on all of that, why she wanted a career.
Her mother died, and Emilie found that sorting her family affairs would be a huge job, and that she would face difficult and painful decisions.
And then she met a man. An Englishman. Sebastian Carruthers had just lost his grandmother, the woman who raised him and his brother, and so he could understand her feelings. And he was more than ready to help.
Work had brought Sebastian to France, he said, but while he was there he wanted to see that chateau where his grandmother had spent time during the war.
In 1943, Constance Carruthers was recruited by the Special Operations Executive, and trained to become an agent. She had family in france, so she spoke the language like a native. And her husband was missing in action; she had to do something, whatever she could to bring the war to an end.
Things did not go to plan in France and Constance found herself in the heart of occupied Paris, in the household of Edouard de la Marinieres. Emilie’s father.
In 1999 Emilie, swept off her feet, married Sebastian. But she didn’t get the happy ending she had been hoping for.
The story began slowly, and if I hadn’t had faith in the author I probably would have given up. The writing was awkward and the dialogue was stilted and weighed down by far too much exposition.
But when Connie’s story began things picked up. Lucinda Riley’s writing is much better when things are happening, and from this point there was plenty happening in both stands of the story. I found that I was reading a book that was both romance and thriller, and that there were so many twists and turns that I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happened.
I loved Emilie and Constance; such well drawn characters.
The stories of past and present were cleverly, and naturally linked, and it was fascinating to see the one echoing the other. I prefered the wartime story, and though the contemporary story was readable it felt a little bit too contrived, a little bit too hard to believe.
There was a lack of subtlety there and in too many other places. The villains in each strand were a particular problem, a bit more cartoon baddie than believable human being.
Such a pity because there were so many lovely details and wonderful moments.
The ending struck a wrong note. It shouldn’t have belonged to a former German officer who had concerns about his regime but did nothing more that help those he loved and flee when he feared discovery. Other did far more, risked far more, when they saw the evils of the Nazi regime.
There was a better ending there for the taking, and better book to be written from the material.