Customer Reviews: The Light Behind the Window
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on March 4, 2013
The Light Behind The Window is told in dual-time narrative, a concept that works so well and that Lucinda Riley has mastered excellently. Weaving the modern-day story with the historical background adds a further dimension to the story.

Emilie de la Marinieres finds herself the sole inheritor of a grand chateau in southern France, the death of her Mother has evoked many feelings for her, not all of them good, and many of them very painful. Emilie has always distanced herself from her Mother and has been living a very ordinary life in Paris. As Emilie begins to sort through her family affairs, she discovers a notebook of poems, written by her Father's sister Sophia. Sophia was never spoken about and is something of a mystery, as Emilie begins to dig deeper into the family secrets she become more and more involved in the past.
Back in 1943, Constance Carruthers has been chosen to become part of the Special Operations Executive, she's an ordinary office worker, newly married to a husband who has been missing in action since almost the beginning of the war. After intense training, Constance finds herself in occupied France on a dangerous mission that could cost her her life.
Constance finds herself caught up in a complex situation masterminded by Edouard de la Mariniers, and so the connection between the two families begins.
Back in the modern day story, Constance's grandson Sebastian has appeared, and he and Emilie become closer and closer. Does Sebastian know more than he is admitting to?

I became really emotionally attached to these characters, although I did find Emilie's story a little slow in the beginning, everything soon began to move at a very quick pace and the connections to Constance's war-time story were riveting.
Churchill's Special Operations Executive programme was completely new to me, a part of the war that I knew nothing about and I found the details entralling.
This novel really is a joy to read, expertly woven together and mixing social history with family dramas and love and relationships - the perfect blend.
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on June 11, 2013
I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley from Atria Books.

In 1999, Emilie de la Martinières inherits the family chateau in the south of France when her mother dies. Emilie has spent her entire life distancing herself from her mother, so her first reaction is to sell the chateau as quickly as possible and return to her safe, orderly life in Paris. But she finds herself drawn to the chateau, feeling a sense of unfinished business as she envisions its possibilities. Her decision to use the money from her mother's estate to renovate the chateau kicks off a chain of events that will teach Emilie more than she ever thought she could learn about her family and about herself.

In 1944, British SOE agent Constance Carruthers finds herself on the steps of the de la Martinières chateau. Her supervisors in London dropped her in France with a specific mission, but she is left at loose ends when she learns that all her contacts have been arrested by the gestapo. The only person in France she thinks she can trust directs her to the chateau as her only hope for a safe house. When Édouard de la Martinières welcomes her into his home, Constance is swept into the middle of a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse between the occupying Nazis and the French resistance movement.

It took me about 150 pages to really feel like I was engaged in the story, but I ended up enjoying it. At first, Emilie's character and her way of talking and thinking seemed cold and stilted, but now that I've finished, I believe that was intentional. Emilie has spent her entire life trying not to connect with people or make any kind of lasting impression, and I warmed up to her as the story went on and she started to grow and change. I do feel like some of the coincidences and revelations in the book stretched belief at times, but my overall impression of the book is positive.

If I hadn't already known, I would never have guessed that the same author wrote this book and The Girl on the Cliff: A Novel. They are extremely different stylistically, but they both focus on the importance of connecting with family and finding a place where you belong.
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on July 1, 2013
Castles, hidden rooms, families, World War II, and history coming alive as past and present blend together for an incredible, marvelously detailed read.

Emilie de la Martinieres is the sole surviving member of her family and is left with a chateau with vineyards and another home in Paris. Both homes are filled with memories and contents worth millions. But, the millions won't be Emile's because of the debt her mother mounted over the years. Emilie needs to decide if she should sell or keep the chateau. She never had to deal with finances and was doing it alone until a complete stranger, Sebastian, came on the scene.

Sebastian's family had some connection to Emilie's chateau and vineyard, and the winemakers on the estate knew what that connection was. The account of the important family connection is revealed through Constance's life during WWII and her connection to the de la Martinieries' family. But, did Sebastian suddenly appear and help Emilie because of the family connection or because he was interested in the valuable paintings inside her estates and most of all her family inheritance?

THE LAVENDER GARDEN moves back and forth from current day to WWII making a beautiful story even more enticing. The WWII details were fascinating and very well researched.

The detailed descriptions of the castle, the French society during WWII, the hint of mystery about the de la Martinieries' history, and the current-day love story make this book another amazing, mesmerizing, and fantastic Lucinda Riley novel.

THE LAVENDER GARDEN had wonderful characters that were believable as well as characters that you would want to share a day with. Being in a beautiful chateau with a vineyard, being in Paris and a small French village, being in an English castle, and being with characters you definitely will bond with made the book even more appealing.

This is by far my favorite Lucinda Riley book. I loved her detail about the French and English countryside and absolutely loved the specifics of the ancestry of Emilee's family. Digging into a family's history is my favorite historical thing to do. The ending is wonderful.

I hope you get to read it. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation in return for an honest review.
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on October 14, 2014
I was not expecting great literature and i was not disappointed.. I did expect a mildly entertaining story line and I got it. But what annoyed the heck out of me was the stilted language and use of slang and idioms that just did not fit the characters or time period. Part of that I guess was to emphasize how naive the main character Emilie is. But it sounded like just a bad translation. Really, would Constance an educated Brit with French ancestry during WWII really use the term "pole position" to describe her priorities? And where in the Moors of York in the middle of winter are you simultaneously a short walk to the village, a bike to the village and needing a car to get to the village. And where, in the middle of a Blizzard do you find fresh flowers? These sound picky and petty but after a while, you just get tired of obvious errors and failure to tend to detail. Truth be told, I am finding this an increasing problem in the less expensive Kindle books.
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on July 24, 2013
The heroine was just too guidable to be believed. The ease with which the villain impregnated himself into the heroine's life was too amazing --after-all, she was supposedly educated, and used to living independently...
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on December 30, 2013
The first part of this book - the first quarter, leaves you shaking your head - it's a bit far fetched - girl in need, guy shows up offering shelter and all kinds of generous help - there's obviously something sinister motivating his behavior - but luckily for us, this isn't revealed until the last quarter of the book - so stick with it!! The story really picks up when the author goes back in time to tell us Connie's story. It was great. All the loose ends are wrapped up nicely in the end. It has a happy ending. I was glad that I couldn't figure everything out right away. I have read this author before and recall that I liked her other books - a reviewer noted that if you like the Kate Morton books, you will like this one and I do agree. A very engaging read.
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on June 19, 2013
This is on the list of the best books I have read. A real tribute to those who lived and died for the freedom of the world. My parents lived during this era and my father fought in the war in the South Pacific so I have always been interested in how this time shaped our lives today. I highly recommend this book. There are many unsung heroes.
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on June 29, 2013
Lucinda Riley's novel is both a WWII novel concerning the French Resistance and about a young woman finding her identity through the telling of her father's involvement with the Resistance and the recent death of her mother. Emilie returns to the chateau she loved after her mother's death to decide what she is going to do now with her parents' belongings and the houses they owned (her father having died years earlier).

During this time she meets Sebastian who is an art dealer and who always happens to be there to help her with decisions which need to be made. Eventually, the two decide to marry, and it is found out that Emilie's father and Sebastian's Grandmother were both part of the Resistance during the war. Even though Seb is English.

Emile finds out her father's story through a family friend who runs the vineyard on the land which belongs on the chateau. She learns of how Seb's Grandmother Constance found herself in France even though she lived most of her live in England and how she helped Edoaurd, Emilie's father.

This book grabbed me at the beginning and I did not want to stop reading until I had heard the whole story and then I wanted to know more of what happened. I felt so connected to the characters by the end of the story I wanted to learn about other parts of their lives. For me this is definitely one of my favorite reads so far this year.
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on August 5, 2013
Long before the main character realizes what she has gotten herself into, I found myself irritated by her naïveté. The story fron WW II was in contrast fascinating and enjoyed that far more than anything else. Disappointed.
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on January 15, 2014
This is a good story. The characters are complex and the setting and time periods are interesting and engaging. I was involved in the story and cared about the characters, which is why I kept reading the book. However, I was frequently aware of the stiff, or ...what''s the word...simplistic voice of the author. It got in the way of me completely enjoying and getting caught up in the story. The author wrote about some intense and complex situations and dynamics and although she sometimes handled this believably, other times it just felt inauthentic. Just my opinion....
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