This was an incredibly charming book, so hopeful and uplifting. I’d read The Last of the Moon Girls so had some idea what to expect, but I actually preferred this tale of two women crossing paths in Paris. Soline works in the family’s bridal salon where a little bit of magic is sewn into the fabric. This magic gives each bride the promise of a long and happy relationship. However, there have been so many losses in WW2 that Soline’s hope has dampened and she has lost her faith in magic. She packs away her work in boxes, determined to forget the life she once enjoyed. We then join another woman, decades on from WW2. Rory has always wanted to open a gallery and she leases the same building that houses those pre-war wedding memories. Rory is also grieving, and knows the importance of remembrance, so when she finds a box with a vintage wedding dress and a pile of letters inside, she wants to return them to their rightful owner. The wedding dress looks unworn, but so much care and attention has gone into making it, Rory feels that the owner would want it returned. When she finds Soline, an unexpected friendship develops and the two women find a lot of parallels in their life stories. Is it possible that magic is still at work and these two women were destined to meet? Could Rory be the one to clarify and put right something that happened forty years ago?
I never seem to tire of these time slip novels and I really did enjoy this tale, with its little bit of magic thrown in. I am a believer that we shouldn’t fully lose that sense of magic we had as children, especially at this time of year. I think it’s only by keeping that childlike wonder and hope that we get to fully experience life. Here Soline has been closed off to magic, it’s been too painful to hope. However, when she and Rory cross paths and that faith is reignited, she starts to fully participate in life again and enjoy it. It was an easy read from the start so I looked forward to getting a mug of tea and my favourite chocolate slipping into their cozy world, even though there was some sadness in store for the our main characters. Soline and Rory do dominate and they are the most three-dimensional characters- none of the secondary characters have much depth. However, these were very personal stories and I don’t think the book would have felt as intimate if we’d had too many other viewpoints. Soline’s story follows her work in the bridal salon and her love for Anson, who has a difficult relationship with his father. As the Nazi’s start to infiltrate France, Soline escapes to America and it is her belief that Anson has died at their hands which knocks all the hope and joy out of Soline. She can’t continue with her work and watch others in love, fulfilling their destinies with each other.
Rory (short for Aurora) has a boyfriend called Hux. He’s a doctor and goes out to South Sudan to work with Doctors Without Borders, but is unfortunately captured. Rory doesn’t know where he is or even if he’s still alive. This is the experience that Rory and Soline have in common, they’re separated from their loves and have had to face up to the fact they may be dead – that might be preferable to thinking about what they could be going through instead. Both are very strong women, however, Rory is still entwined with her mother in a very unhealthy dynamic. She hasn’t realised she can simply walk away from her. The abuse is psychological and it is devastating to a young woman still growing up and finding out who she is. You might find that, like me, you’ll be mentally yelling at Rory to stand up to her mother. I just knew that if she finally did, it would be epic. It would be the catalyst to change her entire life. Rory might have the key to Soline’s wartime memories, but she has a lot to learn from Soline who has grown wise through loss and age. The book has a dusting of magic, but it’s subtle and more akin to perception than anything else. I often let people know how easy it can be to be manipulated into thinking someone’s a psychic by showing them how much I can intuit from them walking into a room and sitting down. As counsellors we do this all the time, reading people’s subtle cues in their body language and the words they choose to express themselves. It can be quite easy to work out why a client has come for counselling before they even open their mouths. So, the magic here isn’t overdone and is more about the sense of destiny and heightened perception we can get: in a house, when we walk into a party, or seeing a couple arguing in the DIY store. It’s also about that magical coincidence of these two women crossing paths, when they are perhaps the only person who could help and understand the other. I like this message that it’s not just romantic destiny that happens in lives. Soul mates are not always our romantic counterpart and I loved the friendship between these two. I think Soline helps Rory stand up and claim who she is.
Yes the ending is a bit schmaltzy, but I expected that and it didn’t ruin the book as some sugary endings can tip the book into being too saccharin and off-putting, I think this story has enough complication to keep the reader’s interest and something for everyone with the mix of historical period (although the 1980s doesn’t feel like history to me), dual narration, family strife and the mystery to solve. The tone of the novel is so relaxing and gentle, even when dealing with complex emotions. All in all, an intelligent story of love, loss, and friendship that I really enjoyed.
Published by Lake Union Publishing 1st October 2021
Meet the Author.
After twelve years in the jewelry business, Barbara Davis left the corporate world to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. She was born in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, but grew up and attended school in Florida. When she’s not writing she’s an avid reader, foodie, and lover of music, a rabid football fan, and a devoted Florida Gator. She also likes to travel with her husband/sweetheart, who over the years has learned much more about publishing and the craft of writing than he ever wanted to know.
Her most recent novel, THE KEEPER OF HAPPY ENDINGS, released October 1, 2021. She is currently working on her eighth novel, and professes to be just as delighted with her job as she was when she set her first word on the page!
For more about Barbara and her books, please visit her website at: http://www.barbaradavis-author.com, or find her on social media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barbaradavisauthor OR on Twitter: @bdavisauthor.