Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Lost Girl the new novel from author Carol Drinkwater. My thanks to Sam Deacon for inviting me to join the tour and to Penguin for providing an advance copy of the book for review. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book just as soon as we’ve taken a look at what it’s all about.
About the Book
Since her teenage daughter went missing four years ago, Kurtiz Ross has blamed and isolated herself. Until, out of the blue, Lizzie is sighted in Paris.
But within hours of her arrival, Kurtiz sees the City of Light plunged into terror.
Amid the fear and chaos, a hand reaches out. A sympathetic stranger offers to help a terrified mother find her daughter.
The other woman’s kindness – and her stories of her own love and loss in post-war Provence – shine unexpected light into the shadows.
The night may hold the answers to a mystery – but dare Kurtiz believe it could also bring a miracle?
Every so often I like to take a break from my crime and thriller reads and dip into something just a touch different. I must admit that when i agreed to the tour, I’d only taken a cursory glance at the blurb but what I did read of it attracted me straight away. When I sat down to read I wasn’t sure what to expect, Carol Drinkwater is a completely new author to me. What I found was a book which drew me in, characters that engaged me and a story that is as moving for its time spent reminiscing about the past every bit as much as the scenes set in the present day. I did not surface for several hours until I had devoured every page, both saddened by the sense of loss and warmed by the feeling of optimism which I drew from the closing pages.
The modern day events are set in Paris in November 2015 on that fateful night which is so indelibly printed upon our memories, the night of the attacks on the restaurants, stadium and concert venue, The Bataclan. Kurtiz has gone to Paris in search of her daughter Lizzie who has been missing for four years. She arrives just ahead of the attacks and while she waits for word from her husband finds herself talking to an old woman, Marguerite Courtenay. After witnessing the attack on a restaurant in the Rue de Charonne, Kurtiz’s life is thrown into turmoil and Marguerite provides her such emotional support while also recounting her own story and that of her first husband, Charlie.
Kurtiz’s story is spread over several years. While most takes place in 2015, we are also taken back through significant moments in her life, from the day she meets her husband, Oliver, to the events which would culminate in her daughter’s disappearance. I found it quite easy to empathise with Kurtiz, with the terror she was feeling that night, the emotional loss of being separated from her daughter, but also the compulsion within her to catalogue all that was happening around her, her instincts honed from time spent working in war zones and areas of conflict. She is a woman with an inner strength, but above all else a mother and the loss of Lizzie was hard for her to swallow.
In Marguerite we have an entirely different character and I couldn’t help but like the colourful old lady, someone who showed so much compassion and concern for Kurtiz having only just met her. Most of her story is set in the post war years between 1947 and 1953 where she meets her future husband Charlie. Charlie is a man with secrets, Marguerite a woman with ambition. Her ambition is to become a famous actress, and ambition which nearly breaks her and almost halts their budding love before it truly begins. Sadly her story is nothing unusual, grotesquely recognisable even in the present day, and although brief, what happens to her is harrowing. Her story is poignant, tempered with loss and tragedy of her own, but her memories of those years and of her beloved Charlie are mostly beautiful. It is these passages, with one notable exception, which I enjoyed the most.
Carol Drinkwater has done a fantastic job of capturing the sense of that night in Paris without sensationalising it or trivialising it for entertainment. You can feel Kurtiz’s panic and that of those around her. The confusion and overwhelming nature of what has happened upon the residents of Paris. It is not the central element of the story, although it does inform what happens, but it is never far from your mind.
I’m not sure quite where I would pitch this book as it is not quite a historical fiction novel, although much of it takes place in the past, not quite a family saga and not crime although it does feature a missing person. What it absolutely is, is a compelling and engaging read with brilliantly crafted characters, beautiful and vivid descriptions of the landscape which make the narrative sing and two emotionally charged stories which intersect in the most unexpected of ways. There was a moment, one simple comment, in which I knew what I suspected would happen, the ultimate truth that we would find, but by this time I was so drawn into the story that I barely gave it a second thought. This is a terrific story and one I would definitely recommend.
The Lost Girl is available now in Hardback and e-book and is released in paperback on 8th March. You can find it at the following retailers:
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Kobo | Waterstones
About the Author
Carol Drinkwater is a multi-award-winning actress who is best known for her portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small. She is also the author of over 20 books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her quartet of memoirs set on her olive farm in the south of France have sold over a million copies worldwide and her solo journey round the Mediterranean in search of the olive tree’s mythical secrets inspired a five-part documentary film series, The Olive Route. She is also the author of The Forgotten Summerand The Lost Girl. She lives in the south of France where she is writing her next novel.
Do make sure to check out some of the other brilliant blogs taking part in the tour.