The Guardian of Lies by Kate Furnivall
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: 31st October 2019
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Historical Fiction
Discover a brilliant story of love, danger, courage and betrayal, from the internationally bestselling author of The Survivors.
1953, the South of France. The fragile peace between the West and Soviet Russia hangs on a knife edge. And one family has been torn apart by secrets and conflicting allegiances.
Eloïse Caussade is a courageous young Frenchwoman, raised on a bull farm near Arles in the Camargue. She idolises her older brother, André, and when he leaves to become an Intelligence Officer working for the CIA in Paris to help protect France, she soon follows him. Having exchanged the strict confines of her father’s farm for a life of freedom in Paris, her world comes alive.
But everything changes when André is injured – a direct result of Eloise’s actions. Unable to work, André returns to his father’s farm, but Eloïse’s sense of guilt and responsibility for his injuries sets her on the trail of the person who attempted to kill him.
Eloïse finds her hometown in a state of unrest and conflict. Those who are angry at the construction of the American airbase nearby, with its lethal nuclear armaments, confront those who support it, and anger flares into violence, stirred up by Soviet agents. Throughout all this unrest, Eloïse is still relentlessly hunting down the man who betrayed her brother and his country, and she is learning to look at those she loves and at herself with different eyes. She no longer knows who she can trust. Who is working for Soviet Intelligence and who is not? And what side do her own family lie on?
Eloïse was born in rural France and grew up on her father’s bull farm, together with her two brothers. She loves the farm, but as soon as she can, she follows the footsteps of her older brother Andre and flees to Paris. She finds a job in the detective agency, as she’s fascinated by Andre’s – the brother she so idolises – job as a CIA Intelligence Officer. We get to know them both right in the opening scene that feels like a scene from James Bond film, a thrilling car chase in which Andre is injured. As she was driving, Eloïse is filled with guilt and decides to find out who has tried to kill her bother, and why. Summoned home, she doesn’t give up on her chase after the truth, but she also realises that the danger may be much closer home than she thinks.
I have immediately became absorbed in the story and the characters’ lives – but it hasn’t surprised me, as I wasn’t expecting anything different from Kate Furnivall’s book! As usual with her books, the characters felt like living and breathing people, and her leading female characters – in this case Eloïse – are strong – minded and brave. Eloïse was capable and determined, however I didn’t warm to her immediately. As much as I appreciated the fact that she’s so determined, she was also much too naive in my eyes and I had a feeling that she’s like the wind, moving in different directions, depending on what she was said. She also behaved too amateurish for my liking, lacked in skills that you’d need as an actual spy. She was too trusty, especially at the beginning, but then she started to have doubts, and she felt more mature. Nevertheless, she was so real with her emotions and feelings of guilt, fear and uncertainty, she wanted the best for all and to find peace. In her hurry and willingness to help, she often makes mistakes, and also tends to do the very opposite of what is said she should do, and really, more than once I was expecting the things to turn out not so rosy for her, and once I really thought that this is it for Eloïse. But altogether, the more I read, the more she grew on me, and I truly admired her determination and the fact that nobody and nothing could dishearten her to find the truth.
The relationships between the characters in this book are so well written! They were not easy, they were not straightforward, they were often thought – provoking but the loyalty Eloïse felt towards her family was lovely to see, even if sometimes this family didn’t show as much concern for Eloïse as she for them.
I always admire Kate Furnivall’s skills to create a brilliant, engaging and complex plot, no matter what period of times her novels are set in. This time she takes us to the mid century France involved in the Cold War. I admit, it is not a period of time that I know much about, so the more interesting it was for me and I have learnt more about post – war France that I could hope for. The loyalties of the French, that were split between America, and the communist Soviet Union, and the tension and unrest it has provoked, provided an interesting and engaging background and she creates a perfect sense of time and place.
Mostly the author has played real mind – games with me and I was like Eloïse, not knowing who was telling the truth and who was telling lies, who was the good and who was the bad one, who wants to help Eloïse and who wants to see the back of her, and how does her family fit into all of those situations. It made my head spinning but it was enthralling and very entertaining.
“The Guardian of Lies” was meticulously researched, vividly written in a way that awakens all your senses while living the story through along with the characters, and brilliantly crafted novel from one of my favourite authors. She has – again – provided us with engaging and complex plot and multi – faceted characters, bringing them all to life and effortlessly transporting the readers into the setting of her novel. It was a fast – paced, unique, compelling and addictive story about love and betrayal, courage and subterfuge, making you feel as if you had your heart in your mouth. Highly recommended!
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