EXCERPT: Hello, you don’t know me, but I know of you – at least a bit! My grandmother, Sophie Mather, died a few months ago, and she was in possession of your grandfather, Tom Reese’s, Purple Heart medal, awarded during his active service in the second world war. She told me she wanted it returned to ‘it’s proper owner.’
I’ve read on your website that your grandfather passed away some time ago, and I’m very sorry for your loss. I presume that the proper owner now would be you or your father. I’m coming to the United States this summer for an extended visit, and would love the opportunity to return the medal to your family.
Abby had read it all, her mind both blank and spinning. Sophie Mather? What medal? And a visit?
ABOUT THIS BOOK: 1944, London:
When Lily meets enigmatic GI Matthew in war-torn London, she doesn’t expect to fall in love. While her sister starts a reckless affair with another GI, Lily tries to hide her growing feelings for Matthew.
But Matthew has a devastating secret. One that could change their lives forever.
Present day, USA:
Abby lives a quiet life on an apple farm in Wisconsin. Tormented by survivor’s guilt after the tragic deaths of her mother and brother, Abby leaves the orchards as little as possible, keeping her life small, peaceful and safe… Until she is contacted by Englishman Simon Elliot, who arrives nursing a heartbreak of his own, and bearing a World War Two medal that he claims belonged to Abby’s grandfather.
Together they begin to piece together the heartbreaking story of their relatives’ war. But as the story brings Abby and Simon closer—tentatively beginning to lean on one another to heal—they uncover a dark secret from the past.
And like Lily and Matthew nearly eighty years before them, it will make Abby and Simon question whether you can ever truly trust someone, even when they have your heart…
MY THOUGHTS: I went into this book thinking that it was going to be a pleasant mystery/romance. And it was. But I have read enough of Kate Hewitt’s books by now that I should have known better. Anything she writes packs a punch, and Into the Darkest Day sure does that.
The story is written over dual timelines, the current day through the voices of Abby and Simon, and 1944/5 through the voices of Lily and Matthew.
Into the Darkest Day is rich in historical detail. The London blitz, with nights spent in cold and cramped Anderson shelters in the back garden while the skies buzz and scream and crackle under enemy attack, droning planes and thudding bombs, emerging after the all clear into air full of dust and the acrid smell of burning, the smell of destruction, to find a once familiar landscape cratered and littered with rubble and the scant remains of people’s personal possessions.
The Wobbelin internment camp where bodies were stacked like winter logs, one atop the other, waiting to be incinerated. Where the survivors are skeletons, with skin stretched over their bones, starved to the point where to give them food would kill them.
I had never before heard of the Ritchie Boys, German Jews who acted as interpreters and interrogators in the final stages of the war, men who returned to Germany to face and confront those who had once tormented and tortured them. Please make sure that you read Kate’s letter at the end of the book, AFTER you finish.
I have read a lot of books about the war, and the camps, but I don’t think I have ever read anything quite so graphically described in so few words.
The characters and their relationships are absolutely absorbing, as is the mystery surrounding the medals. Yes, there is more than one. Mystery, and medal.
I loved Into the Darkest Day, as I have everything I have read by this author. This book has only strengthened my resolve to read everything that Kate has ever written. Highly recommended.
Dysfunctional families are ones with people in them.
THE AUTHOR: Kate is the USA Today-bsetselling author of many books of women’s fiction. Her latest releases are A Vicarage Homecoming and Not My Daughter. Under the name Katharine Swartz, she is the author of the Tales from Goswell books, a series of time-slip novels set in the village of Goswell.
She likes to read women’s fiction, mystery and thrillers, as well as historical novels. She particularly enjoys reading about well-drawn characters and avoids high-concept plots.
Having lived in both New York City and a tiny village on the windswept northwest coast of England, she now resides in a market town in Wales with her husband, five children, and two Golden Retrievers.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Into the Darkest Day by Kate Hewitt for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3253819616