Isn’t that just a beautiful cover with its vibrant colours just shouting summer? After a very hot summer here, it has, thankfully, cooled down and is a bit more overcast. So I decided to hang onto those summer vibes and read this book before we get into Autumn.
About the book
ONE UNFORGETTABLE SUMMER WILL UNLOCK A DECADES-OLD SECRET . . .
FRENCH RIVIERA, PRESENT DAY
When Remy discovers she’s mysteriously inherited a house on the French Riviera, she drops everything to go there, desperately seeking answers. There, she’s shocked to uncover a catalogue of the artwork known to have been stolen by the Nazis during WWII, but there’s something oddly familiar about one of the paintings . . .
While working at the Louvre, bold and beautiful Eliane falls for talented painter Xavier. But when the Nazis occupy the city, Xavier leaves Eliane behind for the safety of England. Heartbroken, she throws herself into helping the resistance catalogue the priceless treasures the Nazis are stealing. But Eliane is playing a dangerous game, and soon realises she may have put her trust in the wrong person . . .
As Remy questions everything she thought she knew about her family, in the past Eliane finds herself in real peril. Could it be that the Riviera house holds more secrets than either Remy or Eliane are ready to face?
Set between war-torn Paris and the present day, The Riviera House is a breathtakingly beautiful story of love and sacrifice, from the internationally bestselling author of The Paris Secret. Perfect for fans of Rachel Hore, Lucinda Riley and Tracy Rees.
In contrast to the brightness of the cover, this novel starts in very dark times as France becomes German occupied territory during WW2. We see the terror of those living in Paris and the desperation of those doing what they can to survive in the face of hunger and danger. Eliane is the main character in this part of the story and she’s incredibly brave. Along with Rose, who is based on a real person, and a few others she catalogues precious artworks stolen by the Germans from their rightful owners so they can be reunited with their owners after the war. This part of the book really highlights the difficult choices that ordinary people had to make during wartime
The more contemporary timeline features Remy who has mysteriously inherited the beautiful Riviera house of the title. She is grieving and broken and it wasn’t hard to understand why. I enjoyed that we got to spend quite a few chapters in each time period, really getting to know each character, their circumstances and the significant events. I did wonder what the connection was going to be as initially they seemed two completely separate stories. As we got to find out more about the connections, I found this really engaging and probably had a slight preference for the wartime timeline. Having said that, I liked seeing Remy begin to come to terms with what had happened to her and to almost give herself permission to move forwards. It seemed that the courage of the people in the past and what they had to deal with gave her the impetus to discover her own inner strength.
The Riviera House is well-researched and detailed historical fiction. Knowing that it is partly based on true events adds to the reading experience. Do make sure you read the author’s note at the end where she talks about her research and honouring the experiences of the real people the book is based on. Recommended for those who enjoy wartime fiction and dual time-line narratives.
My thanks to Natasha Gill at Little Brown (Sphere) for sending me a copy of the book for review.
The Riviera House is available now in paperback, ebook and audiobook.
About the Author
Natasha Lester worked as a marketing executive for L’Oréal, managing the Maybelline brand, before returning to university to study creative writing. She completed a Master of Creative Arts and in her spare time loves to teach writing, is a sought after public speaker and can often be found playing dress-up with her three children. She lives in Perth.