This book is about Betty Shepherd, recruited as an SOE agent during WW2 and sent on a mission behind enemy lines in France. Jump forward 80 years and Betty is about to celebrate her 100th birthday. She still lives at home, ably helped by her live-in carer Tali. Out of the blue she receives an invitation to join the Century Society, an opportunity to meet with other locals of a similar age and reminisce about the past. Betty is reluctant but when Tali insists, she goes along but refuses to open up about her war years. When Tali finds an old chest containing mementos from the war, she realises that Betty is keeping secrets that she cannot even begin to imagine. The book is written in two time frames, alternating between the war mission in 1944 and the current day.
This is a good premise for a book – a past containing espionage and secrets and a present in which those secrets remain hidden but in which circumstances conspire to bring them out into the open.
The author has clearly done a lot of research in order to ensure the historical facts are accurate and I learnt things about WW2 which I hadn’t known before.
However, I wasn’t at all convinced by the characters and also didn’t particularly like any of them. Their personalities somehow lacked depth and I finished the book not really feeling that I had got to know them well or understood quite where they were coming from.
I thought that the book dragged a little at times and could be quite slow. And I also felt that the Tali/Jo relationship was contrived and was an unnecessary addition.
Overall I felt that this book was good enough but could have been so much better. Whilst I would not actively seek out more books by this author, I would certainly read one if it was given to me.
A fabulous book, very easy to read.
Betty is nearly 100 years old and is keeping a secret about her role in WW2.
Her son Leo is coming back from Australia to see her, the relationship is very strained and to begin with the reader has no idea why.
Betty's carer (Tali) discovers a suitcase and inside is a gun, the reader is transported back to the war and to Betty's story.
The book jumps from present day to the past with ease.
Running through the book is also Tali's story, here from Mauritius and running away from her family and past. In the course of her work she finds love and happiness once more.
A story of a woman Betty in her 100th year living with her carer Tali at her own family home. After finding a case in the cellar while tidying the house Tali opens it hoping to find something to stimilate Betty's interest and open up about earlier life and experience. In it she finds a gun which greatly distresses Betty and is ordered to throw it in the river at the bottom of the garden. Betty refuses to talk about her earlier life and is seen by her son Leo and others as a woman of no interest.
The story jumps forward and back from 1944 to 2018 telling Elisabeth story of bravery and tragedy as a SOE survivor and her present life not standing up to others and now being bullied by her son.
This is a easy book to read with so much going on. At times I wish the separate stories could have been elaborated on but they would have pulled your focus away from the mane character Elise. A interesting insight into the training and bravery of the men and women special agents in France in the 2nd world war. Also how sad that the elderly are seen as burdens on society not listened to or recognised encouraged to talk about their younger life's.
St Regulas book club