I’m a big fan of the Guernsey novels by Anne Allen – she’s a wonderful story-teller and very much my kind of writer. Anne joined me to share news about her latest, The Betrayal, back on publication day in October (you’ll find the post here). At long last, I’ve managed to read the book – and I must say that it was absolutely everything I hoped it would be.
Treachery and theft lead to death – and love
1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…
Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest? Who betrayed Leo? Who knew about the stolen Renoir? And are they prepared to kill – again?
If you haven’t read one of Anne Allen’s books before, don’t be put off for an instant by the fact that this is part of a “series” – every book is a stand-alone, complete in itself, but it is rather lovely to meet again some of the characters from previous books in more minor roles. This book is a lovely dual-time story, a sad episode from Guernsey’s wartime history (and one I really didn’t know about) and a modern thread involving a discovered painting, an unexplained death and a convincing love story. It’s fair to say, I think, that this book is a little darker than the author’s others – a dreadful act of betrayal in the wartime story, a threat of violence and a steady building of suspense in the modern story that really has you on the edge of your seat. There’s a little touch of the supernatural too, that works really well – and the whole issue of loss, grief and letting go is particularly well-handled.
As always, the Guernsey setting is vividly and enticingly described – the author’s books always get me googling holidays, and the time I’ve also added a short stay on Herm to my bucket list. Anne Allen’s books are always a pleasure to read, and this was such a well-told story, perfect to escape into for a few hours’ sheer enjoyment. I loved it.
About 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; the fourth, The Family Divided, in June 2015; the fifth, Echoes of Time, in August 2016. The latest, The Betrayal, was published in October 2017.