Published in 2015 by St. Martin’s Press | Audiobook narrated by Polly Stone | 4 feathers
This is set in WWII France, and we follow two very different sisters. On the one hand, there’s rash and bold Isabelle who joins the French resistance to fight back; on the other, there is Vianne, who is happy with her life in the countryside and just wants everything to go back to normal. The war ends up changing them and pulling them in in different ways.
I find it difficult to collect my thoughts on this for some reason. The short story is that I really enjoyed it. I liked how we got to hear from both sisters’ perspectives and that they felt distinct from each other. It was also fun to see how they clashed in having different opinions but still loved each other. There is also the occasional chapter set 50 years later with an unnamed narrator, and I liked trying to figure out the who and why of those.
*This next paragraph contains spoilers*
The thing I think I disliked about this is that the chapters “in the future” didn’t really provide a full explanation. I assumed early on that the narrator would be Isabelle, but when it turned out to be Vianne, I was confused. She seemed pretty content with living in France, so I don’t really see why she would have ended up in Oregon. I would have liked to see that explained. Also, she seemed different as a person. Of course, she’s an old woman, but I couldn’t actually tell that it was Vianne until the very last chapter. She seemed so much more bitter, and it didn’t fully feel like Vianne to try to forget the war to that extent.
*End of spoiler part*
Also, the narrator of the audiobook was great, which was one of the main reasons why I downloaded it. I wanted to listen to someone who at least tried to have something else than an American accent (I was a bit tired of listening to American accents in audiobooks), and Polly Stone changed her voice depending on who was speaking, so she would have an old woman’s voice in the flash-forward chapters, and a “French” accent for the “ordinary” chapters. I really appreciated that. However, this might have been a bad choice of book to listen to on the bus, because it gets sadder the closer you get to the end, so you had to concentrate so you wouldn’t start crying in public. That would have been awkward.