Publication Date: August 13, 2016
Olive wasn’t sure that she and Bill were a match but with all of the other young men leaving Guernsey to take part in World War II, she accepted his proposal as a matter of practicality and regrets her decision immediately. During German occupation, Olive falls for the gentle Major Wolfgang Brecht.
When Natalie flees an abusive relationship in London for the quiet peace of Guernsey she settles in a cottage on the burned remains of Olive’s and Bill’s farm. Strange things start to happen and she calls on Olive’s and Bill’s grandson, Stuart, for help in unraveling the mystery. Will Natalie find out if its one of the lovers or something much darker haunting her?
The author, Anne Allen, gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my review.
Allen is a master of settings, but I don’t think the Guernsey features have been so lovingly described in any of the other books in the series. Allen reaches a connection with her descriptions of beautiful water views and green vistas. Natalie’s cottage has views that rival any in the world and Allen’s skill at conveying their breathtaking glory will lead the reader to wanting to book a trip. In Olive’s story, readers get a sense of how few choices women of that day had and how seemingly paradise can become a prison.
Allen digs deep into history, educating readers about the Nazi occupation of Guernsey. Olive’s story is well written and researched and has the ring of something that could have very easily really taken place. Allen takes a lot of risks with Olive’s story, but as a result of what appears to be complete research manages to make the character sympathetic and someone readers will want to see thrive. Olive and her story clearly live in Allen and the lyrical nostalgia for a precarious time. Her relationships both with a brutish husband and a seemingly gentle soldier/veterinarian are well organized. Older relatives in my family talk about the way the world lived on the edge during the war. The constant fear led to a life lived fast and Olive and her world embody that spirit.
Natalie’s story takes a different path. I love Allen’s style of writing, but she seems less invested in the modern character in Echoes of Time. Natalie’s boyfriend is first abusive and then a stalker. She finds that she must leave her job in corporate London for her own safety. Falling into Guernsey is a blessing for both peace and mind and finding Stuart. Working together, they try to unravel the mystery of the cause of the strange occurrences and when the situation demands, he’s able to step in and protect Natalie.
Still, there’s something missing in Natalie’s story. It lacks the logic and seemingly impeccable planning of Olive’s story. Natalie was not natural and her story meandered more than the historical story. I realize that in digression, the characters are expanded but in Echoes of Time, that departure is unnatural and a bit tedious and contrived. There are elements that go on too long and some that are simply too easy.
Together Natalie and Olive are compelling. They are a balance of pain and hope. They are perhaps a look at how much smaller the world has become and how that has opened up life for the new age. While I may have liked the secondary story less than the stories of other books, Echoes of Time is a novel well worth reading. A compelling beach read, just be sure to wear sunblock in case you find yourself lost in the story. Pick it up today.
Check out reviews of the other novels in the Guernsey series Finding Mother: Another Guernsey novel from the author of Dangerous Waters and Finding Mother.
Read an excerpt and buy Echoes of Time (The Guernsey Novels Book 5) by Anne Allen on