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=The story summary:==
Helen Mercier is a very active Grandmother. Born and brought up in France during the Second World War she joined the Resistance after killing a German soldier who was going to rape her. After the War she returned to England and embarked on a highly successful career in the media. She married and later divorced her husband as they drifted apart over the years.
However when her Grandson David is badly hurt in a car accident she wants to know the story behind it. He tells her how the car he has spent two years restoring an E type Jaguar has been stolen by a con artist. All he can tell her is his name is Henri Lemaitre and when Helen checks out the Pub he was staying in he had already checked out. The only clue was a letter with a postmark of Liverac, in the Dordogne in France. While David recovers in hospital Helen will return to her roots and try and find the man who has swindled her Grandson.
==My thoughts on this novel:
I thought this was a poor example of a fictional suspense novel. It was a disappointing story that really lacked much depth and failed to grab my attention. Indeed had I not read and enjoyed several of this authors books previously I may have given up half way through, but I kept reading in the hope it would get better and I'm sad to say it didn't really. Gerald Hammond in a successful writer career has written 72 novels with this one being published in 2006.
When I was in the bookshop what attracted me to this novel with the striking cover. I am not a big car fan but I was impressed by the old fashioned Jaguar which featured on it. It made me pick the book up and look at the summary of the story on the inside cover. It was a good three paragraphs long and I liked the concept of this former member of the Resistance going back to France to try and help out her Grandson. I thought the novel's title perfectly reflected this. The only thing that annoyed me once again was their was praise from Booklist for this author's work, however this praise was not for this book but other books the author had written.
The story started by providing the reader with a short history of how Helen came to be in France during her teenage years during the War. It briefly showed how her life hard changed and developed as she grew older, leading finally to her old age and how despite her age she was still fit and hungry for a mystery. I thought there was little depth in what I was reading and the facts of Helen's life came thick and fast and lacked much explanation or real background of her thoughts and emotions as to what had happened to her. It was disappointing because the author had created a good character but by rushing information on the reader you did not get really to know and understand her.
However when the actual story began I started in enjoy it more and I was not at all surprised when Helen decided she would try and find this man who had tricked her Grandson. I found the pace was steady and I liked the idea of her returning to where she grew up. The only thing I did find a little hard to believe was how she immediately bumped into her boyfriend from her teenage years. I felt throughout the story the writer was pushing the point don't write of the retired members of society who have lots to give, which I completely agree with, I just felt he was labouring the point and when he started suggesting sex as well I kind of lost interest.
The story developed nicely without ever exciting or really drawing me in. To be honest I found it all a bit too simplistic and easy, but I did at least find the main characters within the story interesting especially Helen. Clearly still a formidable lady who one could only respect for what she had done and her shy way of discussing it. And while I liked her personality I did think there was a lack of depth when dealing with her emotions and the author really had a simplistic view on love and attraction. Especially when dealing with the younger generation, I think he showed a certain lack of understanding as if sex and finding a partner is all they ever think about!! It was far too simple and made the characters look weak and failed to demonstrate how complex and intelligent they really where.
I think my favourite part of this disappointing story was the conclusion to it. This was well thought out and for the first time in the whole book had some suspense about it and an unexpected twist within it. I was so grateful for that as without it I would have suggested this was a story far too obvious and predictable story too dull lacking even for a holiday book.
For me the 184 pages did not do the story justice. I would have liked a longer more complex story with a few more twists and turns. As I felt as I read I had not been challenged by this story and a few weeks down the line I'm sure I will struggle to remember much about it or what happened within it.
I would not recommend this book as a worthy read or a good example of Gerald Hammond's work. The idea behind it was good but to be honest I would have preferred to learn more about Helen's exploits in the War than her return to France over sixty years later. Positively I liked the concept of a determined grandmother I just didn't think the author did her or any of the other characters justice.
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
@CPTDANIELS October 2011.