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Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: If I Could Tell You by Elizabeth Wilhide

Title: If I Could Tell You
Author: Elizabeth Wilhide
Format: ARC
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: February 28, 2017
Source: Publisher



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "England, 1939: Julia Compton has a beautifully well-ordered life. Once a promising pianist, she now has a handsome husband, a young son she adores, and a housekeeper who takes care of her comfortable home. Then, on the eve of war, a film crew arrives in her coastal town. She falls in love. 

The consequences are devastating. Penniless, denied access to her son, and completely unequipped to fend for herself, she finds herself adrift in wartime London with her lover, documentary filmmaker Dougie Birdsall. While Dougie seeks truth wherever he can find it, Julia finds herself lost. As the German invasion looms and bombs rain down on the city, she faces a choice: succumb to her fate, or fight to forge a new identity in the heat of war"

My Two Cents:

"If I Could Tell You"is the story of Julia, a woman living in England during the late 1930s when Europe is just getting swept up in World War II. Julia lives a fairly quiet existence in a small coastal English town, which has been relatively spared by the powers of war. Julia leaves behind her husband and son after she falls in love with a film director. 

This book follows the chaos that happens after she upends her life and everything she knows. The premise of this book was interesting to me. This book is Kristen Hannah's "The Nightingale" meets "Anna Karenina." The problem with these comparisons are that those are two pretty high bars to match. Unfortunately for this book, it doesn't get close to either. There is emotion in this book as there is in the ones that it is compared to but it is not nearly as strong or heart wrenching. The reader is left wondering why Julia would upend everything as there is no thorough exploration as to how she got to where she is by the beginning of the book. 

The book feels very rushed there isn't much of a lead up to Julia falling in love at all. And so it's hard to see how she's able to believe everything she has behind so quickly. There isn't any indication of turmoil in Julia's personal life so it's hard to understand why she would throw it all away. 

The setting of the book was very interesting. Julia lives in a coastal town where the war is seemingly only brushing against the residents. I like the juxtaposition between the coastal town and London, which of course gets hit harder during the war. 

The writing in this book was okay. The author has a tendency to do a lot of telling rather than showing particularly when it comes to some of the emotions of the various characters throughout the book. This serves to take you out of this story a little bit. Overall this book was an interesting premise but in its carryout, it fell a little bit short of expectations.


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