This was another bargain book I found when I was wondering round my local 'car boot' sale and I stumbled upon this one. I was very unsure about this it I must admit, but having read the summary I thought it sounded interesting enough. Also I couldn't really go wrong as it was on sale for just 30p, so there was no harm in trying this one in my opinion.
==About the author:==
Evelyn Anthony is the pseudonym used by Evelyn Bridget Patricia Stevens Ward-Thomas. She was born in London in 1928, but now lives in Essex. In a successful and long writing career that stretches back to 1954 she has written 40 novels, plus 4 in the Davina Graham series. She general writes historical romances, espionage or thrillers. Her most famous work is 'The Tamarind Seed' which was turned into a film that featured Omar Sharif.
==Synopsis of the book==
The story begins in May 1944 when Gestapo Officer Alfred Brunnerman as part of his role interrogates a beautiful 18-year-old Resistance worker Terese Masson. He is the softer earlier stage in obtaining information, he does it in a friendly way and despite his best efforts and a connection with the suspect she will not provide the information. He as a result is forced to pass her over for interrogation to a ruthless man who gets answers by violence and torture.
When the war finally ends Teresa is found hysterical and very badly traumatised by her punishments that she will allow no one near her. Her Doctor decides with her permission to take her memory away in a bid to cure her. Meanwhile Brunnerman successfully disappears into South America having been involved in the killing Jews and burying their bodies in Russia.
Twenty years have past and Teresa has happily married a successful businessman Bob. While Brunnerman has changed his identity and is now Karl Amstrat a successful architect in New York. Then at a Cocktail party the two come face to face again, he immediately recognises her but she has no idea about there previous meeting. They quickly become friends as both feel an attraction as the Resistance hero meets the War Criminal. What will happen as their relationship deepens?
==My thoughts on the book:==
My overall opinion of this was it was a reasonable book with a well thought out story. It is fundamentally a love story, which really takes me out of my comfort zone, as I tend to stay clear of these novels usually. But I think it's important to try different style of writing and also different themes so that was my rational behind this one.
This is the first novel I have ever read by this author so I was entered unchartered territory. As a result I had no idea what to expect from her writing and I was amazed she had written so many books yet I had never heard any feedback on her be it good or bad. This is one of her latest books published in 2004.
But equally I am surprised because this to my mind did not seem like the work of an experienced writer. While there was a lot to admire in her work, I did have a problem not on with some of the very wooden characters she created. But also the conversations they entered into, they seemed very bland and lacking real thought behind their characters and their motivations.
When I read some background on the some things did make more sense. It told me that a lot of her success was built around her historical romances. As she wrote very distinctly about 1944 so that I felt I was back in the interview room with them, with clear descriptions and a flavour of what it was like in those chaotic and frightening times.
In many ways if I'm realistic I was never going to enjoy this novel, but I did really try to. The love story was always going to make me struggle with, yet I did find it compelling and I was very keen to know all the way alone what was going to happen to the star crossed lovers and their complicated lives.
What immediately drew me into the novel was the excellent summary on the inside cover of the book. I really liked the concept of the two once enemies meeting up in a different time. I thought this opened up so many possibilities as to what could and would happen to them.
The story itself was very well constructed and thought out. In some situations it could be confusing as it flirted from the present back to the War on many occasions. But for me the author signposted these well enough, so that this situation did not arise and you always knew exactly where you were. I have known some authors write in italics or highlight this change with dates but as I say I always was aware of it.
For me there was a good feel and pace about the story. There is a lot of chemistry between Teresa and Karl and the author demonstrated this very clearly. You knew it wasn't right and you had the feeling it would end in disaster, but you also needed to know what would happen to them both and the other characters affected by their association.
While at the same time there were aspects about the story I found very hard to swallow. The first of these was what were the chances of these two ever meeting up? Let alone thousands of miles away from their first meeting? But not only were they either working or living in New York but also the Doctor who helped take away Teresa's memory. I just found the concept preposterous and this really detracted from the story that was fundamentally sound.
The other feature that I thought detracted from story was their wealth. I found it unlikely they had all ended up wealthy and within the same social bracket, socialising together on nights out at cocktail parties. I thought the author should have used more originality and made their lives more extreme, I think that would have added to the plot.
That said I did think the story had enough about it as to still be both enjoyable and fascinating. The story flowed well and I never had any idea what direction it would take next and whether Teresa and Karl would be together. What would happen if somehow the truth about him were discovered and what she would do about it if it did. As I have said I am not a fan of love stories but in a way I wanted these two to be happy and they were together, but at the same time you needed this man brought to justice for his crimes against the Jews. But I had no idea how it would end.
The conclusion was particularly good the pace was faster than it had been and the outcome was completely in doubt until the final few absorbing pages. It was skilfully written leaving so many possibilities about the outcome until this conclusion. For me the end I understood and accepted.
Although again it could be agued it was a little sudden and maybe the novel would have benefited from an epilogue. This would have allowed the reader to know what happened to all the main characters a few months down the line. That said on this occasion I think the way she left it was right and it allowed the reader to make their own ending be they happy or sad.
The books main characters were Teresa and Karl. I found them both very interesting and generally well-written characters. With the author not writing from anyone's specific perspective this allowed you to get a good balance between Karl and Teresa's feeling, thoughts and emotions. Even Karl was written in such a way you could understand what he had done all those years before even if you could never forgive it. On one major count I struggled to understand Teresa's thinking, but then I suppose love is the most powerful and unique force.
By contrasts the support characters were very weak. For me they lacked real personalities and depth, they often appeared shallow and only interested in their social standing. As a result I found it difficult to warm to them and have much interest in what happened to them. The descriptions of them lacked punch and in a sense made the roles carried out by Karl and Teresa even more important.
Given what I have read in this novel I am very undecided as to if I will be trying another novel from this author. I think I will check out all her books and see if any summary of it appeals to me.
When I have been researching this author and her work two things have surprised me. Firstly, she has no web site in her name, I find that unusual and it is always a good opportunity to gain interest in your work. Secondly, this book is not available in paperback version; I find that very odd, as I don't know many readers who would be prepared to shell out for a hardback copy. You really would have to be a fan to pay in the region of £18.00 for one of these.
The novel's length for me was much to short. I would have preferred to have more detailed background and improved descriptions, which I think would have dramatically improved the overall structure of the book. With a few more twists and turns could have improved the story and made it more memorable and exciting.
On balance I would not recommend this as a good example of romantic fiction. I did like the concept behind the book and on the whole the story was quite fascinating. However at the same time I found many of the books support characters weak and lack enough thought put behind their characters by the author.
Piece: £18.04 (New Hardback on Amazon)
Publisher: Seven House
More about the author: www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/a/evelyn-anthony
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is written under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
@CPTDANIELS November 2009