Wednesday, 7 April 2021

An Act of Love by Carol Drinkwater @Carol4OliveFarm @MichaelJBooks @Livvii #AnActOfLove #BookReview #WW2Fiction


France, 1943.

Forced to flee war ravaged Poland, Sara and her parents are offered refuge in a beautiful but dilapidated house in the French Alps. It seems the perfect hideaway, despite haunting traces of the previous occupants who left in haste.

But shadows soon fall over Sara's blissful summer, and her blossoming romance with local villager Alain. As the Nazis close in, the family is forced to make a harrowing choice that could drive them apart forever, while Sara's own bid for freedom risks several lives . . .

Will her family make it through the summer together?
And can she hold onto the love she has found with Alain?

An Act of Love by Carol Drinkwater is published on 29 April in paperback by Penguin. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

I have read many of Carol Drinkwater's previous books, both her non-fiction series set on her olive farm in the South of France, and her fictional novels. She's an author whom I admire, I've enjoyed reading her books, and have to say that this new novel; An Act of Love is my favourite of them all.

I was utterly engrossed in Sara's story from the opening paragraphs, as she lays in bed, surrounded by her loved ones, at the end of her life. The reader knows from this short prologue that Sara has such a story to tell.

Sara and her parents arrive at a small village in Alpes-Maritimes, France. It is early spring 1943 and this small family have had a dangerous and arduous journey that has taken a long time, stopped in many places and it seems that this isolated mountain village will be their next home. For how long, nobody knows. Sara and her parents are Polish Jews, driven out of their home by the invasion of the German forces. Labelled and targeted because of their heritage, and destined for almost certain death if they are caught.

The villagers are welcoming, and whilst the Italian army are there, in charge, they turn a blind eye to the newcomers. The village has become a safe haven for Sara and her people, almost fifty per cent of the population are now immigrants. Whilst still afraid, and worried about their future, the family find allies and friends, and Sara, at just seventeen years old, soon becomes an integral part of village life. She finds people to trust, and one to love. However, it is clear that the Germans are advancing, and the family will need to move on. 

When the Nazis arrive, decisions are taken and Sara finds herself alone. As she hides away, whilst trying to protect others, less stronger, the tension increases.

Sara's life is just beginning and her future holds such dangers that she could never have imagined, whilst all the time, pining for her family, and her lost love. She is no longer able to be 'Sara' and in order to survive, she must forget everything and everyone she knows and loves and create a new being.

An Act of Love is a compelling and impeccably researched novel, based around real-life incidents that took place in 1943. The author draws such wonderfully realistic characters set in an evocative setting. This is a story of love and loss, of bravery and daring. It is a tale of sacrifice in a plot that dances with intrigue.

This heartfelt and emotional story is more so because it is based on the truth. I was on tenterhooks throughout this powerful novel. Highly recommended. 

Carol Drinkwater is a multi-award-winning actress who is best known for her portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small. 

Her quartet of memoirs set on her olive farm in the south of France have sold over a million copies worldwide and her solo journey round the Mediterranean in search of the olive tree's mythical secrets inspired a five-part documentary film series, The Olive Route. 

She is also the author of novels The Forgotten Summer, The Lost Girl and The House on the Edge of the Cliff. 

She lives in the south of France.

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