You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham
After her beloved grandmother Rozenn’s death, Morane is heartbroken to learn that her sister is the sole inheritor of the family home in Cornwall—while she herself has been written out of the will. With both her business and her relationship with her sister on the rocks, Morane becomes consumed by one question: what made Rozenn turn her back on her?
When she finds an old letter linking her grandmother to Brittany under German occupation, Morane escapes on the trail of her family’s past. In the coastal village where Rozenn lived in 1941, she uncovers a web of shameful secrets that haunted Rozenn to the end of her days. Was it to protect those she loved that a desperate Rozenn made a heartbreaking decision and changed the course of all their lives forever?
Morane goes in search of the truth but the truth can be painful. Can she make her peace with the past and repair her relationship with her sister?
Morane is troubled, not only has she lost her beloved grandmother Rozenn, she is also suffering post-traumatic stress following a tragic accident and a crippling financial blow to her business. The realisation that she has been left out of Rozenn’s will raises more questions than answers, especially as she knows something is missing, something Rozenn was trying to explain but the stroke had robbed her of her ability to speak. There are some clues, a compass and a few pages of a longer letter, written in French, that mentions a small fishing village in Brittany. Her obsession with the past and her decision to leave Cornwall, looking for answers, leaves her Dad and sister concerned by her actions, but gives her a focus as she thinks about the future.
In this book we also get to follow Rozenn as her family leave Occupied Paris for a fishing village in Brittany. Her father takes up the respectable position of the local doctor, but they have a secret that must be kept from the villagers as they settle into their new life. The hardships, lack of food and living in constant fear of interrogation isn’t easy for Rozenn, who came across as strong, determined and quite different to her siblings. I felt her frustrations with her family and the situation, as she questioned her parent’s motives. She might have missed the city life she was forced to leave behind, but the descriptions of the coves, cliff tops and stone cottages of Brittany made it easy for me to imagine her falling in love with the coast. I also found it interesting to see the comparisons of life in Paris and then Brittany during The Occupation.
In France, Morane finds herself in a close-knit community, where the local people are wary of questions from so long ago, but a good Breton name and the ability to speak French slowly opens some doors. With so few survivors still alive, a lot of what she initially learns, gives rise to more seemingly unanswerable questions.
I love a good mystery and as events from the past and the present slowly unfurled, I tried to piece together Rozenn’s story and work out what had happened to fracture her family all those years ago.
If you like historical fiction, with plenty of mystery, family drama and heartbreak, I’m sure you will enjoy this one. With its choice of location and plot, this book certainly had something different to other books set in Occupied France that I’ve read.
You Let Me Go will be released on 25th March, but you can pre-order the kindle version now, for only 99p.
Eliza Graham's novels have been long-listed for the UK's Richard & Judy Summer Book Club in the UK, and short-listed for World Book Day's 'Hidden Gem' competition. She has also been nominated for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
Her books have been bestsellers both in Europe and the US.
She is fascinated by the world of the 1930s and 1940s: the Second World War and its immediate aftermath and the trickle-down effect on future generations. Consequently she's made trips to visit bunkers in Brittany, decoy harbours in Cornwall, wartime radio studios in Bedfordshire and cemeteries in Szczecin, Poland. And those are the less obscure research trips.
It was probably inevitable that Eliza would pursue a life of writing. She spent biology lessons reading Jean Plaidy novels behind the textbooks, sitting at the back of the classroom. In English and history lessons she sat right at the front, hanging on to every word. At home she read books while getting dressed and cleaning her teeth. During school holidays she visited the public library multiple times a day.
Eliza lives in an ancient village in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family. Not far from her house there is a large perforated sarsen stone that can apparently summon King Alfred if you blow into it correctly. Eliza has never managed to summon him. Her interests still mainly revolve around reading, but she also enjoys walking in the downland country around her home and travelling around the world to research her novels.
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