It is 1938 and Mariette Carrera is a defiant, strong-willed and selfish seventeen-year-old. And sooner or later, if she stays in the small, gossipy town of Russell, New Zealand, she’ll get herself into some serious trouble. Her doting parents, Belle and Etienne, fear for her reputation. So, with the world on the brink of war, Mari leaves home on the SS Rimutaka, bound for her aunt and uncle’s house in London.
Armed with the freedom she’s longed for since childhood, Mari quickly falls for Morgan, the handsome cockney steward on board ship. But once she reaches London, there are other temptations.
Mari loves her new life – caught up in a whirl of dances and parties in the glittering West End, relishing her freedom as she earns her own money as a typist. Finally, she feels she is mistress of her own future. Until it is all snatched away by the war.
As London endures the Blitz, Mari’s new life is cruelly blown apart. Forced from her loving new home, she ends up alone in the East End, and it’s worlds away from the London she knows. But there, even in the face of so much despair, she finds the chance to make a difference. Amidst the destruction, Mari learns that the only way to survive this war is to fight, with all the strength, selflessness and compassion within her…and only then will she find true happiness. Because Mari is a survivor…
So I was sat on the sofa Saturday morning wondering what to do with my weekend. I didn’t fancy facing the shops with everyone else fighting for Christmas presents with little cheer when there was a knock on my door and I was handed this book… Weekend was suddenly sorted!
Anyone that has read my reviews or interviews I have been part of will know that without a doubt Belle written by Lesley Pearse is without question my favourite book I have read. When the sequel The Promise came out I was thrilled and delighted to continue with Belle’s journey and was transported straight away back into her world. I don’t know if I actually knew that Lesley was writing a third book in the series so when I read the back off the book, I was so excited and a little bit nervous of whether it would match up with the other two.
Without question is does and maybe a bit more ….
For those that haven’t read Belle and The Promise, yes you can read this book on its own, but why would you want to when there is so much story to be told in them first. I would also say that reading my review my spoil slight parts of those books (no spoilers for this one!) as it’s hard to talk about this book without mentioning people from the past.
We meet Belle, Etienne, Mariette their daughter and two sons now living happily in New Zealand with the beloved Mog. A gentle simple life finally for Belle and her family but it just is so basic and boring for a 17-year-old Mari. She has her Mothers looks and Fathers spirit and a quite fishing village can’t contain her forever. Before she can bring shame onto the family, it is agreed she’d go and stay with her Godfather and his family in London.
Clearly being a Lesley Pearse novel, this isn’t going to be an easy journey and happy life upon arrival in London especially with war looming. As always there is a fabulously written story, packed full of descriptive passages that transport you straight away to East End and the perils of war. But what I found different about this book was that there was so much more emotional than I expected. I lost the amount of times I cried. The depth of Mari’s character is so strong that you love her and feel every ache and pain she experiences.
I can’t praise this book enough and it was a weekend that I spent just reading this book cover to cover and am not shamed to say I never left my house for a second. I never I thought I’d read a book that I love as much as Belle and I have to say, this truly is fantastic and on par. If you never read more than one trilogy in your life may I suggest it is this one, I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.
Out in hardback and ebook February 2014. (paperback summer 2014)