My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time Taken To Read - 5 days
Publisher - Penguin
Blurb from Goodreads
Belle Reilly finally has the life she's dreamed of thanks to a devoted husband in Jimmy and the hat shop she's wanted to own since she was a child. But as the storm clouds of World War One begin to gather, Belle's already turbulent life is to change in ways she never imagined possible.
When Jimmy enlists in the army and leaves for the battlefields of Ypres, her world is shattered and she realises she can no longer stand by and watch, she must volunteer to help the wounded. But her work as a Red Cross ambulance driver in France throws her into the path of Etienne, the enigmatic man who played a significant role in her childhood, and Belle finds herself torn agonisingly between forbidden passion and loyalty to a good man.
But the past returns to haunt her present in other - more unpleasant - ways and Belle's character is put to the test like never before. Can she survive this most brutal of wars with her spirit intact? And will destiny finally lead her to lasting happiness even while war rages all around?
I read Belle a few years ago, centered around the characters of this book but years previous. As so much time has passed I had forgotten a lot of it and just remembered some parts of it however Pearse covers enough in this one that you can get away with not reading Belle. I would say though it is a great book so if you can, read it first.
Belle and Jimmy are married, settled and very happy however War has broken out and Jimmy has to step up. Belle faces some life changing and heartbreaking events which lead her forward to doing her bit and volunteering during the war. Belle's past comes back to haunt her in more ways than one and soon Belle is faced with some hard choices, does she do what is right or what her heart tells her?
I really enjoyed this book, some people have slated it saying it was predictable and while there was one or two aspects I could see coming, overall it was delightful. There were some twists I didn't see coming and as always you felt a connection with at least one if not more of the characters. The chapters vary in length some ten pages long some double that in length which means you can still dip in and out fairly regular throughout the day.
The back story and the war aspect seems to have been very well researched, from what little I know of the war, it reads very realistic and paints a vivid picture. Overall a very good read, 4/5 for me this time.