I read Lorna’s first book – How Was I Supposed to Know – and really loved it, so I thought I’d give this one a go.
Genre: Historical Fiction, published October 2014, 214 pages
Blurb: Meri Vaarsara had a dream and something to prove. She also had incredibly bad fortune and even worse timing.
Her dream was to become a famous fashion designer in Paris, a dream born from a need to prove herself worthy of love and a happy life, something her stern Finnish mother never fostered but her seafaring father always knew was hers for the taking. So at the tender age of sixteen, Meri left the security of her family and her home for a country where she didn’t speak the language and she didn’t know a soul.
Paris in the late 1920s was not friendly to immigrants, even those with extraordinary talents. Forced to find work as a domestic, Meri forged ahead through turns of fate and misfortune as Paris braced for Hitler’s invasion. By choice, Meri becomes a single mother caring for her half-Jewish daughter throughout the occupation of France. Once the war was over, she used her feminine wiles to find her way to America, the land of milk and honey, with the hope of finally being able to work as a designer in a New York fashion house. But that too was not to be, until fate and a kind stranger stepped in to help.
What I liked: I like stories about women in WWII. It’s a different, fresh perspective on the whole thing. But this story goes beyond WWII and follows the adult life of a Finnish woman who eventually comes to the US, like many of our relatives did. I like that this follows a real person and the things that happened to her in her attempt to make a better life for herself and her family. The book is well written, with very real characters with real flaws and real struggles. And I don’t want to give too much away, but I like that things work out in the end. There were so many thing that Meri endured for her not to get something to work out for her!
What I didn’t like: I can’t think of much here, really. Maybe it’s a little slow when she’s struggling through the war years, but my guess is, that’s how it really was.