EXCERPT: I stopped, noticing an unusual postage stamp on one of the envelopes. It was a red US airmail eight-cent stamp showing a picture of aviatrix Amelia Earhart. My name and address had been scribbled in barely comprehensible letters on the front in bold, black ink. Definitely not a graduate of a British boarding school then, so perhaps not a school friend of Kit’s offering condolences.
I looked at the top left corner to read the return address. A. Bowdoin, Esq., Willig, Williams & White, 5 Wall Street, New York, NY. I assumed Bowdoin was either a funeral director or a lawyer, having never clearly understood the difference between the two when it came to death and taxes.
Climbing the stairs, I slid my finger under the flap and began tearing the envelope, not wanting to go through the bother of retrieving a letter opener. Tucking the rest of the post under one arm, I pulled out a piece of letterhead paper and began to read.
Dear Mrs. Langford,
My condolences on the death of your late husband, Christopher Langford. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but my father, Walter, was a huge admirer and shared with me many stories of your husband’s bravery and courage during the war.
We only recently became aware of your husband’s passing when an old war friend of my father’s mailed him the obituary from the Times. It took a while to find us, which is why it has taken me so long to contact you. I realise my letter might be a surprise and might even be an imposition at best. But I hope that you might bear with me so that I might explain myself and perhaps even enlist your assistance.
In the obituary, it mentioned your husband’s brave exploits in France as well as his involvement with the French Resistance fighter known only as La Fleur. As you may or may not be aware, she has reached nearly mythical proportions in French lore – to the point where some say she never even really existed.
My slow progress up the stairs halted, and I grabbed the banister, the other envelopes slipping from their hold under my arm before gently cascading down the steps. La Fleur.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: The heiress . . .
The Resistance fighter . . .
The widow . . .
Three women whose fates are joined by one splendid hotel
France, 1914. As war breaks out, Aurelie becomes trapped on the wrong side of the front with her father, Comte Sigismund de Courcelles. When the Germans move into their family’s ancestral estate, using it as their headquarters, Aurelie discovers she knows the German Major’s aide de camp, Maximilian Von Sternburg. She and the dashing young officer first met during Aurelie’s debutante days in Paris. Despite their conflicting loyalties, Aurelie and Max’s friendship soon deepens into love, but betrayal will shatter them both, driving Aurelie back to Paris and the Ritz— the home of her estranged American heiress mother, with unexpected consequences.
France, 1942. Raised by her indomitable, free-spirited American grandmother in the glamorous Hotel Ritz, Marguerite “Daisy” Villon remains in Paris with her daughter and husband, a Nazi collaborator, after France falls to Hitler. At first reluctant to put herself and her family at risk to assist her grandmother’s Resistance efforts, Daisy agrees to act as a courier for a skilled English forger known only as Legrand, who creates identity papers for Resistance members and Jewish refugees. But as Daisy is drawn ever deeper into Legrand’s underground network, committing increasingly audacious acts of resistance for the sake of the country—and the man—she holds dear, she uncovers a devastating secret . . . one that will force her to commit the ultimate betrayal, and to confront at last the shocking circumstances of her own family history.
France, 1964. For Barbara “Babs” Langford, her husband, Kit, was the love of her life. Yet their marriage was haunted by a mysterious woman known only as La Fleur. On Kit’s death, American lawyer Andrew “Drew” Bowdoin appears at her door. Hired to find a Resistance fighter turned traitor known as “La Fleur,” the investigation has led to Kit Langford. Curious to know more about the enigmatic La Fleur, Babs joins Drew in his search, a journey of discovery that that takes them to Paris and the Ritz—and to unexpected places of the heart. . . .
MY THOUGHTS: What a splendid journey through three time periods, piecing together the mystery of the identity of La Fleur and her ‘talisman’.
All the Ways We Said Goodbye celebrates the strength of women who survived the war against impossible odds while fighting covertly against the Germans. Impeccably researched and beautifully written, this saga spans two world wars, and a period of discovery. Yes, it is greatly sanitised, and relies quite heavily on the romantic aspect, but the bones of the story are good and solid. While there are no great surprises, it is an interesting read, and I will continue to follow this wonderful collaboration of authors. (Is there a term for a group of authors, I wonder?)
I would love to know the story of how these three came to write together. Personally, I find it quite amazing that three different writers can write together to produce a piece of fiction that moves seamlessly from one narrator and timeline, to another, and another. I have seen less cohesion in books written by a single author! The plot is intricate but not confusing, the characters well depicted. There are multiple narrators on this audiobook, and all are superb.
If you like multi-generational family sagas, this is a good one for you.
THE AUTHORS: Beatriz Williams is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Golden Hour, The Summer Wives, A Hundred Summers, and The Wicked Redhead. A native of Seattle, she graduated from Stanford University and earned an MBA in finance from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.
Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels, including The Summer Country, The Ashford Affair, and The English Wife, as well as the RITA Award–winning Pink Carnation series. An alumna of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a JD from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City with her husband, kindergartner, toddler, and vast quantities of coffee.
Karen White is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-five novels, including Dreams of Falling and The Night the Lights Went Out. She currently writes what she refers to as “grit lit”—Southern women’s fiction—and has also expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. She is a graduate of the American School in London and has a BS in management from Tulane University. When not writing, she spends her time reading, singing, and avoiding cooking. She has two grown children and currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two spoiled Havanese dogs.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of All The Ways to Say Goodbye written by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White, narrated by Helen Sadler, Nicola Barber, Saskia Maarleveld, and published by Harper Audio. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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