Amazon appetizer: March, 1943. On the brink of marrying her childhood sweetheart, Breda's happiness is shattered by the arrival of a telegram, confirming her worst fears: Warren's ship has sunk and her beloved fiance has been killed in action. Heartbroken, she vows never to fall in love again. The unexpected arrival of Warren's cousin Max helps to bring Breda out of herself, but is she ready to let go of her grief? She has a second chance for happiness, if she is willing to take it.My thoughts: I have to confess, I picked up this book to read the blurb because I fell in love at first glimpse with its beautiful pastel-coloured cover, and when I saw that it was the story of a war time romance I knew I had to read it (love stories set in war times are one of my favourites). But I have to say the blurb is misleading: this story is much more a retelling of the Cornish villagers' lives in war time than a love story.
Even though the story is centered around Breda and how she learns to accept that her fiance had been killed and would never return to her, and to continue to live on without him, I found the romance aspect not too well developed or detailed. However I got a very realistic glimpse into the happenings of the local villagers' life, how the teaching and programs go at the infantschool, and the relationship between Breda and her grandmother (who is a wonderful character, one of the highlights of the book!).
My other problem was Breda itself: though I understand that such loss and grief explain her mood swings, I found her at times irritating. Maybe if the descriptive part had been more detailed it would have been more understandable and natural, but I felt we weren't given enough introspection into the workings of her inner turmoil, I would have liked to read more about that.
My complaints about this novel may all be the result of its lenght, or more accurately its shortness: there was not enough time to develop the story and its characters.
- The characters remained simple characters, 2D people, entering the scene, saying their dialogue and exiting the scene. Which was a particular problem regarding the main characters: for example, even though Max is the romantic hero of the story, we do not really get to know him, he remains a shallow shadow character. The character I loved the most was Breda's Gran: she was funny and she got more "flesh and bone" than most of the characters.
- The emotional evolutions (the inner turmoils of the grieving people, the growing love of Breda for Max, etc.) weren't detailed too much, maybe more description at the expense of dialogues would have been better;
- I felt the love story between Breda and Max rushed, as if it had to happen because we were nearing the end of the novel and they had to get together before the last page, which is exectaly what happened! They got together on the very last page!! I missed some ending scene chapter which would have concluded the whole book, and we got to say farewell to the village and its inhabitants, it felt as if the ending was cut and the book ended on the penultimate chapter.
Verdict: All in all a nice read, but I expected more after the blurb. The story and the setting all had great potential which I feel weren't exploited.