Friday 23 February 2024

What I've been reading in February

Both books this month were recommended by Gail at  Is this mutton?

First up, The Secret Pianist by Andie Newton

This is set in the French town of Boulogne sur Mer during the time of the German occupation.  A British RAF plane comes under fire while flying over the town and forced to abandon its cargo of spy messenger carrier pigeons.  One of the birds is found by Martine, one of three sisters living in the town.  She is excited about the opportunity to feed information back to the English but her sisters Gaby and Simone are hesitant to draw attention to themselves.  

Gaby comes to the attention of a German Commandant who orders her to teach his daughter to play the piano.  When their neighbours discover this, they are tarnished with the 'bad French' reputation for supposedly assisting the Germans.  Martine convinces her sisters that they must take advantage of having a means to give information to the British to locate German U boat pens.  They find a way to disguise messages on sheets of piano music and release the bird at the dead of night.  But have they been successful in their plan to help the resistance or put themselves into greater danger?

I really enjoyed this book.  It was well written and I have a vivid picture of the sisters in my mind as I read the story.  You find yourself emotionally involved in their plight and the narrative really takes you to occupied France and the difficulties for the people living in the small towns.


The next book was very different, My Sister's Baby by Louise Guy

This is the story of three sisters. Mandy suffered learning difficulties following a childhood illness which meant that her parents had to pay her far more attention growing up which has led to a strong feeling of resentment from her sister Toni.  Liv found herself in a life threatening accident which resulted in the need for a kidney transplant. Her sister Toni was the only member of the family to be a suitable match and she did not hesitate to be her sister's donor.

Toni and her husband have been unsuccessful in having children despite rounds of IVF and Liv would give anything to be able to help her sister just as she had helped her when she needed a kidney.  So when Liv finds herself in a situation where she could help Toni fulfil her dream of becoming a mother, she breaks all the rules and decides to offer Toni a baby to adopt.  The baby is born at home with the help of a doula to avoid questions in a hospital and in order to make it look as if baby Ruby is Toni's actual baby, she falsifies the birth certificate by entering the wrong names of the birth mother and father.  

Things then start to go wrong, Toni is not finding motherhood as fulfilling as she expected, she is constantly worried that Liv will change her mind and ask for the baby back.  Not only that but she finds it hard to bond with the baby and cannot wait to return to work.  Not long after, the secret of what Liv has done is discovered and Liv finds herself being blackmailed.  She can't tell the police as that would mean admitting the fraud she has committed.  

I have to be honest and say that I figured out the story behind Ruby's birth before it was revealed but it didn't stop me enjoying the book!  My heart went out to Mandy who is aware that she is seen by some to be a burden and how her sister Toni dislikes her.  I didn't like Toni especially regarding her treatment of Mandy and how she quickly decides that after all these years of being desperate for a baby, motherhood is not for her after all.  Her lies to her family and husband trip off her tongue too easily.

I enjoyed both books, thanks to Gail for the recommendations!



Ruth said...

You've sold me on both of these titles - already to the ever-growing TBR list! Thanks. :)

Patio Postcards said...

As always, appreciate book reviews & recommendations. Like Ruth, adding to an ever growing list of holds at the library :)

Gail Is This Mutton? said...

Glad you enjoyed the books. I'd also figured out Ruby's story, but it was quite well concealed. You'll love the Wartime Book Club too.