Thursday, February 08, 2018
The Ambassador's Daughter by Pam Jenoff
The world's leaders have gathered to rebuild from the ashes of the Great War. But for one woman, the City of Light harbors dark secrets and dangerous liaisons, for which many could pay dearly.
Brought to the peace conference by her father, a German diplomat, Margot Rosenthal initially resents being trapped in the congested French capital, where she is still looked upon as the enemy. But as she contemplates returning to Berlin and a life with Stefan, the wounded fiancé she hardly knows anymore, she decides that being in Paris is not so bad after all.
Bored and torn between duty and the desire to be free, Margot strikes up unlikely alliances: with Krysia, an accomplished musician with radical acquaintances and a secret to protect; and with Georg, the handsome, damaged naval officer who gives Margot a job—and also a reason to question everything she thought she knew about where her true loyalties should lie.
Against the backdrop of one of the most significant events of the century, a delicate web of lies obscures the line between the casualties of war and of the heart, making trust a luxury that no one can afford.
This book held my attention from beginning to end. I learned quite a bit about the climate in Europe right after WWI, when treaties were being drawn up and the borders of various countries were expanded or shrunk. Apparently, Ms. Jenoff's master's thesis was on World War I, so she knows what she writes about, which is utterly important in historical fiction.
But the history was never intrusive and besides, that wasn't my primary fascination with the book.
I loved the love story between Margot and Georg, and the secrets that virtually everyone in the novel kept from each other. My heart both ached for Margot and grew frustrated with her intense difficulty to choose between loyalty to family (and earlier promises) and the ability to be her own person. A modern woman might not have as difficult a time as she, however we need to remember that this was 1919. Social expectations were different for women then than they are now.
I also love Ms. Jenoff's writing style. She is very thoughtful and wise.
And I was surprised (to the point of it taking my breath away) by nearly every one of the seemingly endless twists. I think there was only one that I had an inkling was coming.
A very enjoyable read.
This book was given to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.