I love being shocked, being forced to think, and becoming completely engrossed in someone else's story. This book certainly didn't disappoint. I was sucked in by the engaging narrative. I was left in suspense as to the ending. I was forced to think hard on the issue it tackles: blame. Notably blaming oneself for things out of one's control.
And this was a good lesson for me right now.
The lowdown: It's London, WWII; the actual focus is what happens during the Blitz. Though the story delves into the before and after, it's about how the Blitz completely changed the course of people's lives: two sisters, their mother, an "aunt", and more. Hardly a single soul went unaffected. It's about family being torn apart and while you could point the finger at so-and-so for having done this and so-and-so for not having done that, in the end, the blame lies with war itself.
It's about blame, beating one self up, and there's a side story about being forced to grow up before one's time. Being forced to be a mother when one isn't. Taking on more responsibility than one is ready for. So many lessons wrapped up in these pages.
And there's a mystery too, one you can never possibly figure out till the very end. Yet we can make assumptions. It's like a guessing game. In the end I was blown away by how many people were involved and didn't even realize it.
Imagine living that way for real. What happened to her? Did she die? Did someone find her? Was it my fault? Imagine thinking that for twenty years, and you'll be in Emmy's shoes. I love the way this story came together; the brides dresses, the umbrellas, the names. I felt for both heroines. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. And because so much of this tale could be considered spoilers, I hesitate to write paragraphs explaining what happens. This is one you need to read for yourself. You won't regret it. In the end, I was amazed at how so many people were involved, at who made errors in judgement and didn't realize what they were doing.
The writing is stellar and engrossing. Not too much of anything; not too little. The modern story is very minimal and you only need it to tie things together, but this didn't bother me at all. It worked well. There wasn't enough of it to distract me from the history and lesson and the story of mothers and daughters and sisters within the pages. And the final lesson (at least to me): the closest you get to a "charmed" life is allowing yourself to be happy.
I received this via Goodreads Firstreads.