Blog Tour Review: The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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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.

SYNOPSIS:

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.

Photographer of the Lost Cover

MY REVIEW:

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. 

Out now.

thumbnail_Caroline Scott author photo - credit Johnny Ring

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.

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Blog Tour Review: The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this spectacular novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for my invitation to take part and to Simon & Schuster UK for my copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

***The epic and long awaited new romance from the author of Letters to the Lost, winner of the RNA award***

  1. The war is over and a new generation is coming of age, keen to put the trauma of the previous one behind them.

Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing whose life is dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure; to parties and drinking and staying just the right side of scandal. Lawrence Weston is a struggling artist, desperate to escape the poverty of his upbringing and make something of himself. When their worlds collide one summer night, neither can resist the thrill of the forbidden, the lure of the love affair that they know cannot possibly last. 

But there is a dark side to pleasure and a price to be paid for breaking the rules. By the end of that summer everything has changed. 

A decade later, nine-year-old Alice is staying at Blackwood Hall with her distant grandparents, piecing together clues from her mother’s letters to discover the secrets of the past, the truth about the present, and hope for the future.

MY REVIEW:

Wow! This was my first read by Iona Grey and she left me stunned with this enchanting, poignant and breathtaking novel that is every bit as beautiful on the inside, as it is on the outside. 

Atmospheric, luminous, hedonistic, glittering and affecting, this is a love story, a tragedy and a journey of self-discovery. Moving between the summer of 1925 and the year 1936, we learn the story of the secrets Alice Carew’s mother Selina has kept for over a decade. 

What was at the heart of this novel is love: a love between two people from opposite social classes and the love between a mother and daughter. The two very different love stories that were told were equally moving, compelling and heartbreaking. The author also shows us the many different faces of love throughout the story: sexual love, maternal love, the love between friends, dutiful love, love that is controlling and undying love. We all love in many different ways that vary not only depending on our personality, but the roles different people play in our lives and I loved how many examples of these, as well as the impact they have on our lives, were shown throughout the story.

There were many wonderful characters in this book and I felt like the author vividly brought each of them to life through her exquisite writing. They felt real to me. I could hear their voices and see them like I was watching a movie; which this should definitely be turned into in my opinion. From the start I felt bad for Alice being all alone in that big house with her aloof grandparents and strict governess for company. Thankfully, she has the comfort of her mother’s faithful maid and friend, Polly, and the secret letters from her mother. It’s clear her mother is the only person she’s ever felt loved by so being separated for so long is bound to be difficult. Selina was an ambiguous character that I felt a range of emotions for. She’s integral to the story and watching as she grew from a self-focused young woman into a devoted mother was fascinating. I loved her group of friends and one of them was by far my favourite character. The fabulous Theo was over the top in every way and brightened any scene he was in. 

The Glittering Hours is my favourite book so far this month and is one of my books of the year. Insightful, romantic, heartrending and magnificent, this is also a fun, bawdy romp that transported me into the roaring twenties, giving a lively look at the glamour, glitz and decadence of the era. 

Out October 17th in Paperback.

Out on Kindle and in Hardback now.

Iona Grey Author Picture

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Iona Grey has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters. She tweets @iona_grey

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