Hello Lovelies! Please excuse our dust while we do a bit of construction on the blog. We will still be posting exciting reviews, brilliant guest posts, and exciting giveaways but we are in the process of transforming the blog and adding new content and features for you to enjoy.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs

Title: Map of the Heart
Author: Susan Wiggs
Publisher: 10 August 2017 by Harper Collins
Pages: 368 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: women’s fiction, contemporary & historical romance
My Rating: 4 crowns


An accomplished photographer, a widow, and a mother, Camille Palmer is content with the blessings she’s enjoyed. When her aging father asks her to go with him to his native France, she has no idea that she’s embarking on an adventure that will shake her complacency and utterly transform her. Returning to the place of his youth sparks unexpected memories—recollections that will lead Camille, her father, and her daughter, Julie, who has accompanied them, back to the dark, terrifying days of the Second World War, where they will uncover their family’s surprising history.

While Provence offers answers about her family’s past, it also holds the key to Camille’s future. Along the way, Camille meets a handsome American historian who stirs a passion deep within her she thought she’d never experience again.

My Thoughts

‘The moments of life are ephemeral and unpredictable. We must capture the best ones and keep them safe in our hearts.’

I was eager to read a Susan Wiggs book and was pleasantly surprised by this dual time narrative with characters that a range of readers should identify with. With idyllic French Provencal settings and a plot to keep the reader engaged to the end, it proved a wonderful read. The insight into photography is a real bonus and I appreciated the section opening quotes:

‘Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.’

I am a big fan of dual narratives and this one was well done, although (and not surprisingly) I found one story to be stronger than the other. The modern day story of Camille and the mystery surrounding her husband’s death, was at times a little too drawn out and repetitive.  Whilst on the one hand you empathised, Camille would then act in an immature and annoying way. The story of her  grandmother, Lisette, and her tale of life and love in small town France during WWII was far more engaging. A French resistance heroine and downed American paratrooper was a classic tale. Overall, however, it is a good mix of the historical and contemporary stories.

At it’s heart it is a traditional wartime love story that unfolds into present day and the granddaughters second chance at love, whilst unfolding the mystery surrounding her father’s family. I like that there is more to it than just pure romance and the family mystery is noteworthy. You get a real feel for the lead characters and the journey of self discovery they are on - the trauma and anguish and how they deal with it. There are also a range of secondary characters that add real depth to the story - Henri, Hank, Julie - are well written and bring their own story to life and it all blends together very well.

The loss of one star rating had to do with Camille and Finn’s relationship - the way they met (his anger was so understandable and I could not comprehend his complete turnaround) and how they  initially interacted, I found cringe worthy and, at times, the banter was silly - it just took credibility away from what is otherwise, a really good story. The stereotypical widow single mother, meeting handsome professor, initially resistant but flirting and circumstances working it’s magic in trying to bring that happy ending.

However, do not let this distract you from what is essentially a very engaging and satisfying story. There are enough unique aspects to this tale to rate it higher than your average women’s fiction story. More than just a romance, this is a story of family, love, loss, healing and the courage to take the second chance.

‘She used to take pictures, wandering for hours on her travels, a favorite camera thumping against her sternum. She used to disappear into the act of capturing an image, exposing its secrets, freezing a moment.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

1 comment:

Mystica said...

This sounds delightful. Settings and all.