The author of A Fall of Marigolds journeys from the present day to World War II England, as two sisters are separated by the chaos of wartime.
She stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see
Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades...beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden--one that will test her convictions and her heart.
1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, hundreds of thousands of children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old, Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister, Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage. Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed.
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Rare 5-Star Across the Board!
Enchanting, Intriguing, Powerful
The two sisters, Emmy and Julia - both superbly drawn.
It's mainly a narrative spoken by Emmeline, and Alana's interpretation was lovely.
It was a story about two sisters, Julia and Emmeline, who were separated at the beginning of the Blitz on London. Both of these characters were equally memorable.
I truly enjoy historical novels -- stories set in the past-- but this was more than that. Ms. Meissner's tale of what innocent civilian's of London endured during Hitler's assault on the city and the surrounding area, was the most emotionally evocative telling of this bit of history that I have ever read. The intimate details, sometimes grotesque and sometimes touchingly beautiful, provided a perspective on this brief period that I had never considered. But most significant was her insight into the human experience, the weaknesses and strengths of the human mind and heart. Almost immediately, I felt like I knew Emmeline - her free spirit and rebellion against her mother's authority mixed believably with her love and protectiveness towards her little sister, Julia. The relationship of these two half-sisters is timeless. Every twist and turn of their young lives as they faced and triumphed over the horrors of loss and destruction all around, kept me longing to know where their choices would lead them next.
When reading for enjoyment, I tend to want everything to fall into place, not predictably, but neatly with a happily ever after tone. This is not what I found in Secrets of a Charmed Life. I found much more. An intriguingly complex tale with events as varied and unsettling as life itself. And, as is often the case in life, Ms. Meissner reminds us that troubled times do not preclude rich and precious rewards.
My favorite book of the year
- Joyce BZ