Echoes from Afar
by Tamara McKinley
Publishing Date: 28th January 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 448
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction
A powerful story of love and loss from internationally bestselling author Tamara McKinley.
So this is Paris, she thought in awe. Spread out before her beneath a clear blue sky, it was like a precious gift after the smog and filth of London. No wonder it was called the city of love . . .
After a spiteful rumour ruins her career in London, Annabelle Blake must travel to Paris to start afresh. There she makes the acquaintance of Etienne and Henri – one a poet, the other a painter – both charming, talented and handsome. They spend their days flirting and drinking with the city’s artistes and Bohemians, and soon Annabelle too is swept up in the exotic and exhilarating world of 1930s Paris. But as ever more young people are drawn to the fight against Fascism in Spain, Annabelle must wake from the dream and confront the reality of war. A lifetime later, gifted artist Eugenie Ashton falls in love with Paris the moment she sets foot outside the Gare de Lyon. Like her mother Annabelle before her, the artistic delights of the city are a bright new world to her: but Eugenie will soon find that in its shadows are hidden the secrets of her family’s past.
What is so brilliant in being a book blogger is the fact that we can discover new authors – new to us, as Tamara McKinley has written, as far as I know 12 novels, and „Echoes from Afar” is my first read by this author. This book is a historical fiction, and as it is one of my favourite genres, I started reading it with high expectations.
A great part of the book takes place during the Spanish Civil War, which was also a bonus for me, as I haven’t read a book set during those times before, the closest one was „The Italian Wife” by Kate Furnivall set in Mussolini’s Italy, but in Spain – not yet. The descriptions of Spain and the air raids, and also the conditions at the field hospitals were very detailed and very vivid, and especially one blitz has stuck in my memory.
Also, the book features the 1930′s in Paris, and the author brilliantly got the vibrant, jaunty atmosphere of local streets, citizens, and especially artists. Then we have a chance to see the same city almost 20 years later, through the eyes of another young girl, and see how the city and its residents have changed. There was only the right balance between the carefree Paris and the war scenes, Annabelle’s time as a nurse in Spain. The descriptions were rich and the author has really nailed the atmosphere of all the times she was writing about.
I absolutely adored Annabelle’s story, it was the best part of the book. She was a strong, independent woman and I liked the passion she felt to her nursing job – she was the right person on the right place. She was so honest in all her reactions and the way she was. Her developing relationship with Henri was so very well captured, and the author shown all the ups and downs of loving someone during the war – and one scene was truly heart – breaking. I really liked to see how this feeling between them, their love and respect to each other, just oozed from the pages. I never trusted Etienne – he seemed to accept the fact that Annabelle has chosen Henri over him but I couldn’t help the feeling that he’s plotting something against those two love birds.
However, everything in this book happened in such easy way. People met again, found each other without any problem, faced up to the facts without resistance, the secrets were not life changing and quickly revealed. Also, I missed a little a closure with Etienne, I suspected him, after Aline’s warnings, that he told lies to Annabelle, that he was guilty of this whole situation – but nothing was said about it. Then, after a really big part of the book concentrating on the story of Annabelle and Henri and their stay in Spain, I was wondering when Eugenie is going to come on the scene, and when she appeared, this part, in comparison to the earlier parts, felt too rushed and not as well developed as the first three quarters of the book. The end felt too good to be true, where everybody loved each other and everything was OK again. On the whole, the reading felt a little flat.
There were also moments in the book that seemed to me very sudden and abrupt and I was going back few pages to see if I missed something, as it looked like we were expected to know some things that happened before, in the background.
„Echoes from Afar” is a captivating, interesting read that mixes war times with feelings of love and art that takes the reader on a great journey in time and through Europe. So with the strong settings and characters and engaging plot it makes a really compelling read. Tamara McKinley is for sure an author to keep an eye on, and I will be checking more of her books.
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