Welcome to my stop on the blog tour. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part, and Simon & Schuster UK and NetGalley for my ARCs of this book.
Until she knows her husband’s fate, she cannot decide her own…
An epic debut novel of forbidden love, loss, and the shattered hearts left behind in the wake of World War I.
1921. Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. His considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she begins to search.
Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph grave sites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for his brother.
And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to the startling truth. An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history,The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.
The Photographer of the Lost is a soulful, poignant, haunting and immersive debut novel. It is a story of sorrow and hope that highlights a part of history rarely remembered; the thousands who simply vanished.
Brothers Francis, Will and Harry all fought together in France during World War I, but Harry was the only one to return home. He carries the guilt of this every day and has never felt able to settle there again. Instead, he travels taking photographs of graves for the families of those killed in action, offering a small crumb of comfort in their time of grief.
Back in England, Francis’s wife, Edie, has accepted her husband is ‘missing presumed dead’. But when she receives an envelope containing a photograph taken by Francis four years after he was last seen, she has a surge of hope and she decides to go to France to search for answers.
Also in France, Harry adds Francis’s name to his list, determined to find his brother’s final resting place. But after hearing about the photograph he starts to wonder if Francis could really be alive, and begins an urgent search for the truth. We follow Edie and Harry as they search for Francis, meeting others also touched by the horrors of war along the way. But, as they begin to unravel the truth, it looks like they will be torn further apart. Can they find answers while also repairing the only link to family they both have left?
This novel was truly breathtaking. The author’s portrayal of the harrowing reality of war, of life in the trenches, how villages and towns were reduced to rubble and left in ruin, and the anguish felt by those who survived, was powerful and profound. But this emotional journey wasn’t just somber, this was also a story about survival, endurance, love and hope. Her writing was full of vivid imagery that made me feel like everything on the page was playing on a movie reel in my mind. The characters each showed optimism and resilience despite all they’ve gone through and illustrated the sheer magnitude of the devastation left behind by war, how everyone you meet will have been touched by some kind of loss. The author wrote with such potency that I felt like I was feeling every trauma they endured and they and their stories will stay with me long after reading.
The Photographer of the Lost is a magnificent and beautifully written piece of historical fiction by an author that is one to watch. A deeply affecting story of love, death, heartbreak and hope, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys this genre.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She has a particular interest in the experience of women during the First World War, in the challenges faced by the returning soldier, and in the development of tourism and pilgrimage in the former conflict zones. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in south-west France.