Betrayal, injustice and revenge echo down the years…
1940. Olive marries farmer Bill Falla. The Germans occupy Guernsey. All too soon Olive realises she’s made a mistake. Her life changes when she meets Wolfgang, a German officer- but there’s a price to pay…
2010. Natalie Ogier returns to Guernsey to escape an abusive relationship – only to be plagued by odd happenings in her beautiful cottage on the site of a derelict and secluded farm. Disturbing dreams, disembodied voices and uncanny visions from the past. She becomes increasingly ill at ease as someone else’s past catches up with her own…
Her only immediate neighbour, Stuart, is the grandson of the original owners, Bill and Olive. Thrown together in a bid to find out what really happened to Olive, can they each survive the repercussions of the past and move on?
To my shame – and disappointment – it’s been a while since I’ve read one of Anne Allen’s Guernsey novels. I loved the two I did read – Dangerous Waters and Finding Mother (my review of both is here) – but it’s really difficult keeping up with a series when you have a busy blog. But it really was time to read another, and I was delighted to have the chance to read the fifth in the series – Echoes of Time – ahead of publication on Monday 15th August (available for kindle and in paperback). When I say “series”, don’t be put off if you haven’t read the others, all Anne’s lovely books work perfectly as stand-alone reads: if you read as a series though, it’s really good to meet some of the characters you’ve met in earlier books, this time taking a more minor role.
This book was actually a really lovely surprise. It had all the elements I expected and have enjoyed in all Anne Allen’s books – a vividly described Guernsey setting, a page-turner of a story, strong characters who quickly become your friends, an easy-to-read style, characters from the other books appearing here and there – but in addition to that I was delighted to find that it was also a dual-time story with a bit of time slip. Now, those of you who’ve known me a while will know how much I enjoy that kind of storytelling: I’m also a bit of a connoisseur, and this one was exceptionally well done. For this type of book to work, both storylines need to be engaging, of equal strength – otherwise you get that wrench when you move from one story to the other. There were no wrenches here – both stories were wonderful, very well integrated and with similar themes, and I was every bit as hooked by Olive’s wartime life as I was by Natalie in the present day. I enjoyed the supernatural elements – they’re entirely natural and believable, and nothing too uncomfortable (ok, I did get a bit edgy reading it in the early hours – but once I’d checked nothing had happened to my downstairs rooms I was fine…!).
The research behind Olive’s story is evident as the story comes to life, but it wears it lightly – this book really transports you to the Nazi occupation of Guernsey and the difficult lives people led. I learned a fair bit too – I didn’t know about the slave workers or the railway, and the ostracisation of the collaborating “jerrybags” was an aspect I’d never thought about. The characters are wonderful, and very emotionally engaging – Olive’s life and experiences were particularly moving, and brought a tear to my eye on several occasions.
If you’ve enjoyed Anne Allen’s previous books, you’ll really enjoy this one – I think it’s by far the best of the three I’ve read. And if you’re a fan of dual-time, time slip stories – the likes of Barbara Erskine, Rachel Hore, Susanna Kearsley – I’d really recommend you give it a try. And when you have, why not go back and try the rest of the Guernsey Novels series? Here are the details:
The Guernsey Novels
Tragedy seems to follow Jeanne Le Page around . . .
Can she really go through it again and survive?
Jeanne is lucky to be alive … at sixteen she was almost killed in a boating accident which brought heart-breaking family tragedy. Now, fifteen years later, Jeanne returns reluctantly to the island of Guernsey following the death of her beloved grandmother. Struggling for breath as the ferry nears the island, she is overwhelmed by a dark foreboding as hazy memories of that terrible day resurface…
Only returning to sell her inheritance – her grandmother’s old cottage – she has no intention of picking up her old life. But the cottage holds a secret, dating back to World War II, and Jeanne becomes drawn into discovering more. Then, soon after her arrival, a chance meeting with an old teenage crush leads her to thoughts of love.
Jeanne is forced to face her demons, reliving the tragedy as her lost memory returns.
When the truth is finally revealed, her life is endangered for the second time…
Three women. Three generations. Sacrifices for love…
Who is she really? Nicole is about to find out as she searches for her real mother; the woman who gave her away at birth. With her marriage in tatters, she sets out from England: travelling to Spain, Jersey and Guernsey before the extraordinary story of her real family is finally revealed.
Nicole becomes an unwitting catalyst for change in the family. Two women are forced to reveal long-buried secrets. One going back as far as the Second World War. Lives are transformed as choices have to be made and the past laid to rest…
Two violent deaths. Separated by time, but with a fatal connection…
A man loses his father. A young woman loses her mother. Both in tragic circumstances that lead, when they meet, to surprising revelations from the past.
Louisa needs to find the father she has never known, to warn him of possible danger – for them both. Her search takes her from England to Guernsey. Malcolm’s journey is more tortuous: conceived in Guernsey, he travels to Canada as a baby with his bereaved mother.
Many years later he arrives in India, and from here he is led back to Guernsey to open a health centre at La Folie. This was his father’s home, where Malcolm was conceived, but never lived and where his father was killed at the start of the Second World War.
At the heart of the two deaths lie stolen jewels. Valuable enough to kill for. Twice.
Finding her father brings Louisa more than she bargains for, and her life is transformed, while Malcolm learns that life is, after all, for sharing…
One family, divided by death – and money
Andy Batiste, at loggerheads with his degenerate cousin, seeks to discover the truth of his family history. Why was his pregnant grandmother forced to flee to France? What really happened to her husband during the German Occupation, sixty years ago? Who accused Edmund, the elder son and Batiste heir, of being an informer? Was he really a traitor – and who murdered him?
With Edmund’s brother Harold now head of the family, enjoying the wealth which ought to have come to Andy’s father, the family is forever divided. Andy yearns to clear Edmund’s name and restore his father to his rightful inheritance.
Into the conflict comes Charlotte Townsend, newly divorced, lonely and struggling with writer’s block and the consuming threat of impending loss. She returns for healing at Guernsey’s natural health centre, La Folie, and becomes involved in Andy’s family affairs.
Together they embark on a hunt for the truth…
Meet the author
Anne was born in Rugby to a Welsh father and an English mother. As a result she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea. Now she is based in Devon to be near her daughter and 2 small grandchildren. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves, the longest stay being in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns. Her younger son is based in London – ideal for city breaks.
By profession Anne is a psychotherapist who long had a desire to write and Dangerous Waters, her first novel,was published in 2012. It was awarded Silver (Adult Fiction) in TheWishingShelfAwards 2012. Her second, Finding Mother, was runner-up in Family Sagas in the 2013 SpaSpa Awards. The third in The Guernsey Novels series, Guernsey Retreat, was published in August 2014 and the fourth, The Family Divided, in June 2015.
(If you follow links to my earlier articles featuring Anne’s books, I must apologise for the enormous photos produced when my blog migrated – try as I may, I just can’t remove them or make them smaller. The text, though, is just fine…)