Book Review: The Silent Hours by Cesca Major

So book number 29 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is The Silent Hours by Cesca Major.

‘An epic, sweeping tale set in wartime France, The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:

Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;

Sebastian, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;

Tristin, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.

Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss.’ (Thanks to Amazon)

I’ve got to be honest – I found this book very difficult to get into.  I would read a chapter and then walk away for a while before picking the novel up again.  Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character.  We have Adeline, Isabelle, Paul, Tristin and Sebastian.  All of these characters are so different, yet inextricably linked. This story is set in France during World War Two, at the time when the Nazi’s were advancing, eventually taking over France.  The novel highlights the growing tensions around the Jews, their mistreatment by their neighbours and friends, and the effects the war has on those who remain in their homes.

Whilst I struggled initially to get into this novel, once I did I could not put it down.  As you are aware by now, I love a historical novel and particularly one set during World War Two.  I highly recommend starting (and sticking with) this novel.  The premise of the novel, which does not become fully clear until the end, is loosely based on a true event during the war in France.  As I was not aware of this particular event in French history, I was not expecting the twists and turns that this novel very subtly takes to reach its conclusion.  It’s not a novel to read if you’re looking for something light – it deals with some heavy and traumatic historical issues. However I cannot recommend it enough.  Cesca Major’s fictional characters bring to life a truly tragic and barbaric event in French history that we should all be aware of to ensure that such things never happen again.  The poignancy of this novel is so compelling; it draws you in as you become embroiled in these characters, feeling their love and their pain as they continue their own journeys through wartime France.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Book number 28 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge (and book number 9 of the summer holiday where it has been confirmed that I was unreasonably unsociable) was We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

‘We are the Liars.
We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.
We are cracked and broken.
A story of love and romance.
A tale of tragedy.
Which are lies?
Which is truth?’ (Amazon, thanks)

Firstly, I had no idea what to expect when I started this novel.  I genuinely had no idea what the book was about, and I did not know how it would end.  I don’t want to give too much away, but the novel focuses on Cadence Sinclair Eastman, a member of the wealthy Sinclair family.  Over the course of the novel she talks of her summers on Beechwood Island, her families island where she and her cousins spend the warm days living their privileged lives during their teens.

It is clear that Cadence had a horrible accident, as she tells us of stories from before and after her accident, but does not give much information about the accident itself as she can not remember.  She hopes that returning to Beechwood Island and spending the summer with her cousins and friends will jog her memory so that she can finally come to terms with why she suffers from such terrible migraines.

I am not going to talk about this novel anymore than this.  We Were Liars is a clever, poignant novel that deals with love, privilege and tragedy.  This is a young adult novel, but I would recommend it to anyone to read.  I can’t actually say that I loved it – however it raised a number of issues and was so thought-provoking that I must recommend it.

Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 stars

Book Review: Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Book number 27 of my Goodreads Reading Challenge (and book number 8 of my increasingly unsociable holiday) was Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan.

‘Great friends. Amazing Apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes and instead of shimming further up the career ladder, Paige is packing up her desk.

Her brother’s best friend Jake might be the only person who can help her put her life back together. He also happens to be the boy she spent her teen years pining after, and Paige is determined not repeat her past mistakes. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more Paige realises the one thing that was missing from her world all along: The perfect New York love story…’ (Amazon, you rock)

Sleepless in Manhattan is the first in the From Manhattan with Love trilogy by Sarah Morgan. I have to be honest – I read this entirely based on the Snow Crystal trilogy which I absolutely loved – check out my previous review!

Sarah Morgan knows how to write a good chick lit series – I love that each story in the series is a new story based around a character that features in each of the novels.  It gives you a real insight into these characters, and gives you the opportunity to follow them through the novels.

I enjoyed reading about Paige and her friends as they face an uncertain future and how they are able to grow in the face on adversity.  As with all Sarah Morgan novels, the love story between Paige and Jake is the central focus, and this is a lovely, relatable story.  I can’t say that I preferred Sleepless in Manhattan to the Snow Crystal trilogy (sorry but I loved that!), however I did really enjoy it and I will be reading Sunset in Central Park.

Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 stars