As the Second World War draws to a close, Intelligence Officer Gus Clifton surprises his sisters at their London home. But an even greater shock is the woman he brings with him, Krista – the German wife whom he has married secretly in Berlin.
Krista is clearly devastated by her experiences at the hands of the British and their allies – all but broken by horrors she cannot share. But Gus’s sisters can only see the enemy their brother has brought under their roof. And their friend Nella, Gus’s beautiful, loyal fiancée, cannot understand what made Gus change his mind about their marriage. What hold does Krista have over their honourable and upright Gus? And how can the three women get her out of their home, their future, their England?
Haunted by passion, betrayal, and misunderstanding these damaged souls are propelled towards a spectacular resolution. Krista has lost her country, her people, her identity, and the ties that bind her to Gus hold more tightly than the sisters can ever understand…
I was hugely excited to be asked to take part in this blog tour as Elizabeth Buchan is a writer that I often press on people saying ‘I know you’re going to LOVE this book…’ and this is an opportunity to do it so so many more people as part of this tour.
As soon as I received this gorgeous book through the letterbox, I blocked off the whole of the weekend as I could not wait to immerse myself in it. I’ve read quite a few books now, set in this post-war period. I’ve loved the three Sarah Waters novels and find this period of transition, uncertainty and huge social change a really fascinating one. I never thought I’d find anything else set at this time to be so compelling, but I was definitely wrong…
This is the kind of novel that’s so hard to review as there are many many aspects that you want to give as a gift to the readers coming after you so that they can have the experiences you’ve had whilst reading it.
This book truly held me in its spell as its cast of characters all moved me emotionally as Buchan cleverly and skillfully leads us through their conflicting and diverse emotions at this time of great emotional turmoil for them. It was hard to choose who to pity the most as we see things so clearly from all of these characters’ points of view. Krista is an amazing character and seeing the post-war UK through a German’s eye was a brilliant stroke of creativity that allows the reader to think about things afresh and perhaps challenge some of their cosier assumptions about the ‘enemy’ for themselves.
Gus and Nella’s ill-fated romance is another way in which Elizabeth Buchan dares us to think about things a little differently in this novel. Where exactly your sympathies lie by the end of the novel will vary enormously and could really challenge your ideas about where you think you might have empathised. I loved Nella: her determination to carve out a life – after everything that she’s endured – really resonated with me and she was definitely one of those characters for me: you know the ones I mean. The ones that live with you long after you’ve closed the book. No spoilers but her hidden depths certainly kept me turning the pages as I pondered the exact dynamics of their marriage
Krista, Julia and Tilly are all fascinating counterfoils to Nella and absolutely ensure that the reader never becomes complacent and their assumptions keep being challenged throughout this powerful and affecting read. I gave it a resounding ten out of ten and I’m definitely going to be off to hunt through the stacks for another Elizabeth Buchan read now that my appetite has been whetted – and doesn’t it look amazing in my #OnTheShelfie
#TheNewMrsCliftont’s a gripping and elegantly written novel that both moves the heart and challenges you to think about how far you would go to retain a sense of self after the horrors of war. It was such a treat, I’ll definitely be recommending it to all my bookish friends. Go on, treat yourself
Thanks so much to the lovely Sian Devine for inviting me on the Blog Tour
Welcome Home Indeed…
Author On The Shelf
Elizabeth Buchan began her career as a blurb writer at Penguin Books after graduating from the University of Kent with a double degree in English and History. She moved on to become a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full time. Her novels include the prizewinning Consider the Lily – reviewed in the Independent as ‘a gorgeously well written tale: funny, sad and sophisticated’. A subsequent novel, Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman was made into a CBS Primetime Drama. Later novels included The Second Wife, Separate Beds and Daughters. Her latest, I Can’t Begin to Tell You, a story of resistance in wartime Denmark, was published by Penguin in August 2014.
Elizabeth Buchan’s short stories are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in magazines. She has chaired the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliot literary prizes, and also been a judge for the Whitbread First Novel Award and for 2014 Costa Novel Award. She is a patron of the Guildford Book Festival and of The National Academy of Writing, and sits on the author committee for The Reading Agency.
You can find out more about Elizabeth’s other books on her website
Or you could follow her on Twitter twitter.com/elizabethbuchan