1 March 2017

Review: THE NEW MRS CLIFTON, Elizabeth Buchan

  • this edition published by Penguin UK 2016
  • ISBN 978-1-405-91820-6
  • 401 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Penguin UK)

As the Second World War draws to a close, Intelligence Officer Gus Clifton surprises his sisters at their London home. But an even greater shock is the woman he brings with him, Krista - the German wife whom he has married secretly in Berlin.

Krista is clearly devastated by her experiences at the hands of the British and their allies - all but broken by horrors she cannot share. But Gus's sisters can only see the enemy their brother has brought under their roof. And their friend Nella, Gus's beautiful, loyal fiancée, cannot understand what made Gus change his mind about their marriage. What hold does Krista have over their honourable and upright Gus? And how can the three women get her out of their home, their future, their England?

Haunted by passion, betrayal and misunderstanding these damaged souls are propelled towards a spectacular resolution. Krista has lost her country, her people, her identity, and the ties that bind her to Gus hold more tightly than the sisters can ever understand...

My Take

We know from the opening pages that a murder has been committed, but not whose body it is. The murder is discovered nearly 3 decades after it happened. There are at least 3 possibilities and the identity is not revealed until the last few pages.

This is a novel filled with the aftermath of World War II and full of little mysteries. Central is the hold that Krista has over Gus. Theirs is clearly a marriage of convenience not love, but just who has a hold over who is not clear. The comparisons between Berlin and London are very evocative and thought provoking. Krista is an illustration of how tough and resilient the female survivors of Berlin must have been, but life in post war London is tough especially for a woman speaking with a noticeable German accent.

Gus's sisters Julia and Tilly are struggling to find meaning in their lives especially after their brother's return to the house they have maintained for him during the war years. And Gus's job doesn't make life any easier.

An excellent read, but one that is on the very edges of crime fiction.

My rating: 4.7

About the author

Elizabeth Buchan's previous novels include the prizewinning Consider the Lily, The New York Times bestseller Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, and her most recent book I Can't Begin To Tell You, which was a World Book Night pick for 2016. Elizabeth's short stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in a range of magazines. Elizabeth reviews for the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail and is a patron of the Guildford Book Festival and co-founder of the Clapham Book Festival. She has chaired the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliott literary prizes, has been a judge for the Costa novel award, and she sits on the authors' committee for the Reading Agency. She lives in London.


Terra said...

This book sounds fascinating, a murder, a wife from Germany married secretly, sisters unhappy. Sounds good.

Peggy Ann said...

Definitely looking for this one! Thanks!


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