The PresentI have read and enjoyed all of Lucinda Riley's books but in my opinion The Light Behind the Window is by far her best.
Emilie de la Martinieres has always fought against her aristocratic background, but after the death of her glamorous, distant mother, she finds herself alone in the world and sole inheritor of her grand childhood home in the South of France. An old notebook of poems leads her in search of the mysterious and beautiful Sophia, whose tragic love affair changed the course of her family history. As Emilie unravels the story, she too embarks on her own journey of discovery, realising that the chateau may provide clues to her own difficult past and finally unlock the future.
London 1943. A young office clerk, Constance Carruthers is drafted in the SOE, arriving in occupied Paris during the climax of the conflict. Separated from her contact in her very first hours in France, she stumbles in to the heart of a wealthy family who are caught up in a deadly game of secrets and lies. Forced to surrender her identity and all ties to her homeland and her beloved husband, Constance finds herself drawn into a complex web of deception, the repercussions of which will affect generations to come.
At 529 pages, it is quite a lengthy read but I flew through it. I was entertained and captivated by the story from the very beginning, right until the final page.
I had become so interested in the characters that I really did not want their story to end.
The story is split between the present and the past but the two are expertly woven together. Constance Carruthers is an office clerk in 1943, her husband Lawrence is missing in action so when she is called to serve her country by travelling to Paris, she almost has nothing to lose. However, Connie's mission does not go to plan and instead she becomes embroiled in the lives of the aristocratic de la Martinieres family. They offer her refuge in Paris but they also change the course of her and her family's lives forever.
Meanwhile in the present day, Emilie de la Martinieres has just lost her mother. She was a very distant figure in her life and so Emilie is left confused about her feelings over her death. Emilie's life is about to change too as she is the sole heir of the Martiniere's fortune and estate. She has always fought against her background but now she has to face up to her family's tremendous history and decide how and if she will preserve it for the future. Emilie meets Sebastian at this time and he is eager to help her organise the estate. Can she trust him, is it finally time to allow someone in to her life to love her properly?
I don't think I will be able to do this book justice in my review. I found both stories so interesting and I loved the way in which they gradually came together and interlinked. I enjoyed the past and the present aspects of the book equally. Emilie's story reminded me a little of My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. She has to question everything and everyone around her as it is not just herself that she has to protect but also her family's legacy.
The past aspect of the book was brilliant, Lucinda Riley explored and captured war time Paris and I think she showed just how far people were prepared to go in order to protect their country. I think a lot of books that discuss the war focus on those fighting at the front line but The Light Behind the Window highlights the many men and women who risked everything for little or no recognition.
Lucinda Riley has written a fabulous book. Her stories are always captivating and intricate with characters that you come to know and believe in. I highly recommend The Light Behind the Window but make sure that you have some spare time as you will not want to stop reading once you have begun.
Dot Scribbles Rating: 5/5
Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of the book to review.