A curious mix of romance, historic fiction and family saga combine in this debut offering from author Piper Milton. The World War I setting provides a lovely backdrop in which the characters drive this plot forward in
Clementine and Claudia
Two British sisters, raised in the same household who prove that nature can override nurture in many situations. Clementine is a nurse, working in Northern France and dealing with all of the horrors wrought during World War I. By contrast, her sister Claudia is living her life as if a war has no effect: following her rather selfishly unthinking pleasures and planning her marriage. From the start, we see how these sisters differ, hoping that Claudia will actually grow beyond her selfish view of the world, while we want Clementine to find a measure of peace and happiness even after all she has dealt with during the war.
But Clementine’s obligations are clear: not only is she to attend a rather quickly arranged wedding for her sister, using her leave to make the journey by train. On this train, she meets Alexander and their connection is instant and palpable.
Of course, things are not as simple as one may expect: Alexander is Claudia’s fiancé (something he didn’t mention) and Claudia is not (as she claimed) pregnant with his child. From here, the personal relationships between the three are front and center, with everyone losing a few points in my connections with them – the lies and subterfuge were overwhelming.
Fortunately, the story quickly moves from the triangle between Clementine, Alexander and Claudia to become a careful expose of family relationships and jealousies, the power and speed of love connections made during war and the choices, good and bad, that lead to life-altering situations.
Claudia really never grew at all through the story- raised to be a woman of her time: married by a certain age to be supported in a particular style, she never seemed to want more for herself than the next moment that will follow that path. Snide, spoiled and conniving are easily in her reach, when charming and manipulative don’t always work. For her part, Clementine’s only real misstep was falling for Alexander: her desires to continue nursing and her sweeter more caring nature while her determination to take advantage of opportunities now available to women give her a stronger profile. Alexander, on the other hand wanted his cake and to eat it too. He wasn’t thrilled about the marriage, but also never thought to speak of it to Clementine. Yes, things were changing and men were scarce, but he was just my least favorite.
Milton uses these moments and choices to lay out the story, the war is simply a background element that fuels the story’s conflicts with the immediacy that comes with an uncertain future. A wonderful debut, gripping and thoughtful.
Title: Clementine and Claudia
Author: Piper Milton
Genre: British, Family Saga, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, World War I
Published on: 22 September, 2016
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ iTunes
The First World War is raging and sisters Clementine and Claudia are coping in very different ways. Clementine is a nurse on the front line, doing her best to save the lives of soldiers wounded while serving their country. Claudia, on the other hand, is living the good life in England, deliberately oblivious to the horrors her sister and so many others are living through. When they both meet their perfect man, their already fractured relationship is tested in ways they could never imagine.
The début novel from Piper Milton, Clementine and Claudia is a powerful and beautifully written story of romance and war and a wonderful addition to the romantic traditions of Penny Vincenzi, Soraya Lane, Brief Encounter and Downton Abbey.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: