Friday 18 February 2022

The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop BLOG TOUR #TheLostChapter @calbish @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours #BookReview


1957, France. 

Florence and Lilli meet at finishing school in Lyon. Despite some differences, they forge a firm friendship that promises to last a lifetime. But a terrible betrayal prematurely tears them apart.

 Years later in England, Florence has become the woman her friend knew she could be – creative, bold, and independent. The exact opposite of Alice, a young woman troubled by a recent trauma, whom Florence is determined to help bring out of her shell. Just as Lilli once did for her.

 When Florence discovers that the novel she’s reading is written by Lilli and is based on their time at school, the two stories begin to unfold together. Past events illuminate the future, and it becomes clear that long-held secrets can't stay buried for ever.

The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop was published on 3 February 2022 by Simon & Schuster. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours blog tour.

I do love a story set over a dual timeline, and am especially fond of the 1950/60s era. Add in a dash of France and some feisty young women and this book could have been written for me!

Caroline Bishops opens her story with an entrancing and intrigue prologue. It's 1958, in Lyon, France and a narrator is waiting for someone. There's a definite air of mystery to this, who is the narrator? Where are they going? Who are they waiting for?

We are then introduced to Florence in the modern day story. Florence is eighty, she lives alone apart from her pets, a dog and cat named Eric and Ernie. She has a bit of reputation locally, with the youngsters, most of them think that she's something of a crazy cat lady, but there's far more to Florence than meets the eye. A talented artist, she's travelled the world and has many stories to tell. 

Eighteen-year-old Alice is anxious and always worried about everything. She's suffered a great loss in her young life which continues to affect both her and her mum Carla, whose over protective ways are becoming overbearing. When Alice meets Florence after agreeing to walk Ernie the dog, they recognise something in each other.  

Florence is reading 'The Way We Were', a novella by an American author called L P Henri. She bought the book after reading about it in the newspaper, and whilst the names are changed, it is clear to Florence that the main characters; Lenny and Fran are in fact, her and her dear friend Lilli. She suspects that Lilli is the author. They have not seen each other for over sixty years, and Florences holds such guilt about the way they parted. 

It's a really clever way to structure this dual time story, a little unusual, and sometimes a little challenging to get the character names straight in your head. 

I loved reading about headstrong American Lenny and quieter, tamer Fran, and their exploits during their time at finishing school in Lyon. The author captures the era so very well, with the strict boundaries imposed upon the girls and the injustices meted out to those who rebelled. 

The modern day story is just as enticing and as Alice's own story slowly unfurls, the reader feels such empathy toward this young woman who struggles every day with the impact of a tragic event. 

At its heart, this is a story of the power of the female bond and how friendship can endure years apart, both in time, and in age. Florence and Alice are incredibly well created characters who the reader cannot help but cheer for. 

A stylish and evocative read, a mix of modern day issues combined with those of the not so distant past. I enjoyed it very much. 

Caroline Bishop began her journalism career at a small arts magazine in London, after a brief spell
in educational publishing. 

She soon moved to work for a leading London theatre website, for which she reviewed shows and interviewed major acting and directing stars. 

Caroline turned freelance in 2012 and a year later moved to Switzerland, where her writing veered towards travel and she has contributed to publications including the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph and BBC Travel, writing mainly about Switzerland, and co-wrote the 2019 edition of the DK Eyewitness Guide to Switzerland. 

For two years Caroline was editor of, an English-language Swiss news site, and it was during this time that she became fascinated with aspects of Swiss history and culture, particularly the evolution of women's rights.

Twitter @calbish

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