Title: The French Gift
Author: Kirsty Manning
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Family, Historical fiction, Strong women
Dates read: 23rd – 30th March 2021
Format: ARC, Novel
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
5th sentence, 74th page: Line your stomach before you meet those two!
A forgotten manuscript that threatens to unravel the past…
Fresnes Prison, 1940: Former maid at a luxury villa on the Riviera, Margot Bisset, finds herself in a prison cell with writer and French Resistance fighter, Josephine Murant. Together, they are trasnferred to a work camp in Germany for four years, where the secrets they share will bind them for generations to come.
Contemporary Paris: Evie Black lives in paris with her teenage son Hugo above her botanical bookshop, La Maison Rustique. Life would be so sweet if only Evie were not mourning the great love of her life.
When a letter arrives regarding the legacy of her husband’s great-aunt, Josephine Murant, Evie clutches at an opportunity to spend one last magical summer with her son. They travel together to Josephine’s house, now theirs, on the Cote d’Azur. Here, Evie unravels the official story of this famous novelist, and the truth of a murder a lifetime ago.
The redemptive beauty of nature and the promise of new love offer light at the end of the tunnel in this stirring novel delving into Europe’s past.
I received this ARC from Allen & Unwin in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Normally I struggle a little bit to get through any historical fiction books. I have plenty and till enjoy them all… but I do tend to find that they are a little bit more difficult to get through for me than some of the other genres that fill my shelves. Maybe because I’m constantly questioning what’s fact and what’s fiction. And then getting distracted by the idea of doing more research…
Again, I loved the flickering between timelines and points of view normally tend to confuse and overwhelm me. But it wasn’t the case in this story. I loved flickering between Josephine Murant and Evie. Their lives running in a parallel line with completely different battles being fought. You actually discover Josephine’s history as Evie does, which further draws you into the amazing storyline. The fact that it’s a story with two strong women as the leads… that just makes it all that much better!
I really and seriously did not see the twist at the end of this story – it was completely unexpected and seriously intense. I love when a twist comes out of nowhere and just completely smacks into you. It’s what makes me want to read another book by the same author. It is just so difficult to find surprising twists and turns!
This story is overall a tale of strong women, hope and survival. It is about finding one’s own strength, but still leaning on those you love and who love you. Whether it is a best friend, a potential new love or the child you feel pulling away from you… each and every relationship in this story is powerful. And underneath it all, there is just that amazing sense of hope that you can’t help but grin about.
I will most certainly be reading this ARC again. And again. And probably again. Not only was it an amazing journey, but I loved the strength of the women and the journey that Manning manages to take you on. Most certainly a book that will sit proudly upon my shelves.
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