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gertrude

December 2017

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reading

The New Mrs Clifton, Elizabeth Buchan



I found a lot of faults in the writing of this book; clichéd descriptions, the odd anachronism but nevertheless I gobbled it up. It’s a real page turner.

The story begins in 1974, with the discovery of the skeleton of a young woman in the garden of a house at Clapham Common. Then it’s straight back to the immediate post-war period. Gus, who has been involved in Secret Service work during the war, arrives at his Clapham Common home with a new wife, Krista. The war has changed him and everyone else. His sister Julia, widowed by the war, is bitter and unhappy. Tilly, the other sister, leads a rackety life. They share the house and do not make Krista welcome. Before his marriage, Gus was engaged to Flora, who is now broken hearted at what she sees as betrayal. Her brother, formerly Gus’s best friend, has been badly wounded, is much changed and furious with Gus. I got a little irritated by the way Gus, who loves all these people, doesn’t seem to notice how badly they treat Krista. In spite of her good English and her good intentions, poor Krista is hated by the English for being German (‘a kraut?’) and by the Germans for helping the British after the war. It becomes clear that she and Gus have worked together on interrogations of Nazis but it’s not at all obvious why they married, since theirs is a marriage in name only.

I’m fascinated by the 1940s and love books written either at the time or about the period. Elizabeth Buchan has created a believably drab London as well as a horrific Berlin. The interrogation work which Gus and Krista share has many ambiguities, as most espionage does, and the descriptions are both realistic and chilling. There are many flashbacks to the terrible state of Berlin in 1945 and of Krista’s struggle to survive. She is still suffering the effects of malnutrition. Throughout the book two mysteries haunt the reader: how Gus and Krista met and what made them marry and, whose body in the next door garden? This reader galloped through the book in a state of terror for Krista. Thank goodness the author gives us answers. Recommended.

I read this courtesy of the publishers and NetGalley.

Comments

(Anonymous)

I agree i love it

This is a great book and i loved it.Thanks for blogging about it.Many bloggers repeat themselvesgoing on about EH YOUNG ,Elizabeth Taylor and Margery Sharp every few months.

Re: I agree i love it

Glad we agree. I do love E H Young and Elizabeth Taylor but I hope I don't go on about it :-)

(Anonymous)

Re: I agree i love it

Because you are the only blogger who says she dislikes Rachel Ferguson you can do no wrong.

Re: I agree i love it

Heh! That's a new one.

(Anonymous)

Adverts

Just to let you know I am having difficulty reading your blog on my computer, because adverts from something called Live Journal keep popping up and blocking it. It's OK on my ipad. I don't know if you know about this.

Re: Adverts

I'm sorry you're having these problems. My blog is hosted by Live Journal, which is why that name appears. I did post a while ago about these ads, apologising and pointing out that I have no control over them. As a logged in user, I never see them.

I spoke to someone who looks regularly at my journal and is not a member of LJ. She says she sees ads in a bar at the top of the page or between posts. If an ad actually blocks the page, there is a X in the corner which will close it.

Hope this helps.