1957, France. Florence and Lilli meet at finishing school in Lyon. Despite some differences, they forge a firm friendship that promises to last a lifetime. But a terrible betrayal prematurely tears them apart. Years later in England, Florence has become the woman her friend knew she could be – creative, bold, and independent. The exact opposite of Alice, a young woman troubled by a recent trauma, whom Florence is determined to help bring out of her shell. Just as Lilli once did for her. When Florence discovers that the novel she’s reading is written by Lilli and is based on their time at school, the two stories begin to unfold together. Past events illuminate the future, and it becomes clear that long-held secrets can’t stay buried forever.
Caroline Bishop began her journalism career at a small arts magazine in London, after a brief spell in educational publishing. She soon moved to work for a leading London theatre website, for which she reviewed shows and interviewed major acting and directing stars. Caroline turned freelance in 2012 and a year later moved to Switzerland, where her writing veered towards travel and she has contributed to publications including the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph and BBC Travel, writing mainly about Switzerland, and co-wrote the 2019 edition of the DK Eyewitness Guide to Switzerland. For two years Caroline was editor of TheLocal.ch, an English-language Swiss news site, and it was during this time that she became fascinated with aspects of Swiss history and culture, particularly the evolution of women’s rights.
My thoughts: this was a wonderful read about the power of friendship, taking a chance and learning to forgive yourself. Flo might be in her eighties but she’s not slowing down, coming across a book written by her old friend Lilli, inspired by their time at a French finishing school in the 50s.
Reading it sparks all sorts of memories and sends Flo off on a journey into the past. Her teenage dog walker Alice is dealing with a huge loss – the death of her best friend Ella, one she blames herself for. As she gets to know Flo and begins to come out of her shell, she too has to confront the pain she’s been running from.
I loved Flo and Alice, and Alice’s mum Carla too. All three women were trapped by their pasts in different ways and needed to let go in order to heal and move on. As they set off to find Lilli, there’s important conversations to be had and new beginnings to find. Lilli has rewritten the past and Flo hopes it’s not too late to find her friend and look to a brighter future.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.