1943, in the ruins of Blitzed London…Stella Thorne and Dan Rosinski meet by chance and fall in love by accident. Theirs is a reluctant, unstoppable affair in which all the odds are stacked against them: she is newly married, and he is an American bomber pilot whose chance of survival is just one in five.
… He promised to love her forever
Sixty years later Dan makes one final attempt to find the girl he has never forgotten, and sends a letter to the house where they shared a brief yet perfect happiness. But Stella has gone, and the letter is opened by Jess, a young girl hiding from problems of her own. And as Jess reads Dan's words, she is captivated by the story of a love affair that burned so bright and dimmed too soon. Can she help Dan find Stella before it is too late?
Review: oh this book was just perfect. I have to admit that I was intimidated by the size of it so it has been sitting on my shelf for a lot longer than it should have done but if you're feeling the same way, please please pick this book up now, it is worth every page it is printed on and you won't want it to end!
Now I'm not normally a fan of historical fiction, I like to be able to picture the scenes that I'm reading so something set in the modern day is an easier read for me, but this authors wonderful description mean that I genuinely felt like I was in in 1943 with Stella and Dan and the vicar as much as I could relate to the modern day section of this novel. Each scene made you feel as if you were right there with the characters shivering in the cold or enjoying the sunshine, being scared of the air raids or fearing for another reason altogether. This book also totally made me want to sit down and watch back to back episodes of Call the Midwife.
I loved Jess and Stella right from the start, they were wonderful courageous women and the times their lives paralleled each other were just wonderful bits of story telling. I felt I could relate to both of them, even though Stella's story was set so many years ago. I have to admit to not liking Will quite as much In the beginning of the novel but I had fallen completely in love with him by the midpoint, wanting to swoop into the book and rescue him as much as a I wanted to do with all these other lovely new friends. And Dan, oh my goodness Dan, I fell in love with him from the moment we met him! He was so unbelievably kind and generous and handsome, I so would have wanted him bringing me chocolate during the war too. The point about Dan though was that he was generous right up until the last page of the novel! We all need a dan in our lives right now!
The storyline varies between London in 2011 and war torn 1943/44 London. I love a dual narrative and this book told the story of Jess and will in present day, each from their own perspective and also Dan and Stella in 1943 from their own perspective so four points of view to keep up with. This might seem like a lot to follow but the writing slips between all four so seamlessly that you hardly even notice it and you can hear the characters voice so clearly in your head that it's always clear who you are with. Its always wonderful to get an event from another point of view as well and secrets are uncovered at every moment in the novel so in this case it is vital.
As much as I loved this book it did make me cry. I was surprised that I didn't cry until the last 10% at which point I continued to cry, so desperate was I to see everyone get the ending that they deserved and the last pieces of the puzzle be put together! and then I cried for about half an hour after it ended and mixture of happy and sad tears-be warned you will need tissues with this novel and it will leave you with a big ole' bo hangover (haven't picked up another book yet!) but it is so so worth it. Ignore any preconceptions you might have about this novel, it's a beautiful bo that will have you hooked right the way through and it is something to which, as I did, you should dedicate your weekend to!