The Redcliffe girls, Isobel, Chiara, and Felicity, are three British sisters in pre-World War II Europe who each follow a path as individual as they are.
Isobel is the oldest and fancies herself worldly. She is married to Roberto Albaran, a Spaniard who ranks among the Nazi elite. Isobel lost her infant son just before we meet her and around the same time her husband realized that he could not deal with the loss of his son so he left her in their Spanish country home and took off for the high life. As a journalist, Isobel is enamored of Fascism for she views it with a promise of hope and change. Felicity, the youngest of the girls, is nineteen when we meet her. She and Isobel are hiding in a cottage after Isobel’s house was appropriated by the Spanish forces trying to keep peace. Felicity has her heart set on becoming a nun and is on her way to enter a convent. But the sisters ‘capture’ an American soldier – William Willoughby – and Isobel is determined that Felicity should fall in love with the man. Willoughby escorts the ladies to Barcelona in their effort to return to England. The middle sister, Chiara, lives in London and in the midst of her socially hectic lifestyle refuses to admit that one day soon war will come to Britain.
As much as each sister struggles to maintain her singular lifestyle, the circumstances surrounding the foundations of World War II causes each of them to rethink the lives they’ve carved out for themselves. Will Isobel open her eyes to the truth about Fascism and Adolph Hitler? Will Felicity find peace as a cloistered nun? Does Chiara find true love after realizing that most of her male acquaintances are merely playboys?
This story, set against the backdrop of the growing fears and horrors of an impending World War, is one that grows on the reader much like a fine wine leaves a pleasant aftertaste. The characters are richly drawn. The settings are real with much attention to detail. The plot meanders a bit at the outset but by mid-book the reader will be anxious to learn more. The twists are fully unexpected.
I thoroughly enjoy stories set in this era and while I’m happy to have read this one it landed square in the middle of the pack for me.
Rating: M M M
For a video version of this book review click here: Video Book Review