Lorna Cook comes to the blog today with her debut offering, a story that unveils a long-abandoned village and the questions that surround it in
The Forgotten Wife
Told with two main narrators in two different points in time – the present day Melissa is in Dorset with her boyfriend Liam, enjoying a short holiday – or they would be if Liam wasn’t always somewhere else leaving Melissa to her own devices. Struggling for something to do, as she’s not included in Liam’s stuff – Melissa spots a notice for a grand reopening of a coastal village, requisitioned by the Ministry of Defense in World War II, and despite not being a ‘history’ person – off she goes. The tiny village of Tyneham has been uninhabited since 1943, people just left with some basic things, believing they’d return at the end of the war. For 75 years, the only growth was in dilapidation and mold. But, with a television-presenter historian giving a chat, and an intriguing photo in the church that has ‘before they left’ photos displayed, leaves Melissa intrigued, questioning and investigating.
Back in the 1943 timeframe we hear from Veronica, Lady of the ‘big house’ and wife of the miserable, drunken Bertie, Lord of the Manor. Here is a power-play of abuse and ill-treatment, petty jealousies and childhood anger that festered and found an easy puppet and outlet for unsavory urges in Veronica. Most importantly, it is the photo – where she appears frightened and desperate to get away from the man clutching her hand that speaks to Melissa – awaking some memories and issues in her own life.
I’ll be honest – the ‘forgotten village’ story is a solidly done one and brings up a situation unfamiliar to many of us in the US about the sacrifices and changes that came to ordinary Brits during the war – and the intrigue of a village stopped on a random day is just a free-for-all for the imagination. But here, Cook has used the past abuses and struggles of Veronica to inform a change in Melissa as she examines her own history with abuse and relationships, as well as introduces us to Guy, grandson of a maid in Veronica’s employ, abuse survivor, historian and intrigued with the newly-single Melissa.
Easy to read – light and entertaining even with the abuse, several twists lead to a satisfying conclusion for both Veronica and Melissa, even as the pathway through the muck isn’t always clear. Clear descriptions, solid, if not quite brilliant, characters and a sense of things forgotten or discarded over the years makes for an intriguing debut and promises good things for this author.
Note: in the UK, Germany and Netherlands – this book is titled The Forgotten Village
Title: The Forgotten Wife
Author: Lorna Cook
Genre: British, Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Family Saga, Historic Elements, Mystery Elements, Romantic Elements, Setting: Britain, Small Town, World War II
Published on: 4 April, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google
A timeless story of love and sacrifice, perfect for fans of Rachel Hore, Tracy Rees and Kate Morton.
1943: The world is at war, and the villagers of Tyneham are being asked to make one more sacrifice: to give their homes over to the British army. But on the eve of their departure, a terrible act will cause three of them to disappear forever.
2018: Melissa had hoped a break on the coast of Dorset would rekindle her stagnant relationship, but despite the idyllic scenery, it’s pushing her and Liam to the brink. When Melissa discovers a strange photograph of a woman who once lived in the forgotten local village of Tyneham, she becomes determined to find out more about her story. But Tyneham hides a terrible secret, and Melissa’s search for the truth will change her life in ways she never imagined possible.
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.