Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Published: April 1, 2015
Genre: Women’s fiction
Back cover blurb: From the author of Tully and The Bronze Horseman comes an epic new romantic saga – heart-wrenching and passionate, this compelling story of love lost and found will stay with you forever …
Falling in love was the easy part …
Chloe is weeks away from college when she embarks on a grand European adventure with her boyfriend and two best friends. Their destination is Barcelona, with its promise of romance and mystery, but first they must detour through the historic cities of Eastern Europe to settle an old family debt.
As they traverse the unfamiliar landscape of the post-Communist world, Chloe meets a boy on a train who is going off to war. Johnny carries a guitar, an easy smile – and a lifetime of secrets.
The trip becomes a treacherous journey into Europe’s and Johnny’s darkest past – a journey that threatens to shatter the bonds holding together four lifelong friends.
From Riga to Treblinka to Trieste, Chloe must face her deepest desires colliding with the future she thought she wanted.
For Chloe and Johnny only one thing is certain: whatever their destination, their lives will never be the same.
My review: The Bronze Horseman is one of my favourite books of all time, so it’s hard not to compare Ms Simons’ other works against it. This got off to a slow start for me – it’s 20 percent in before the teens go off on the European journey in the back cover blurb – but once they get to Latvia, and once Johnny Rainbow comes into the picture, the story really kicks up a notch and I became invested.
The story is set a decade ago, before every young person had a smartphone in their eyeline at all times, so when things start to go wrong in Europe, as backpacking holidays inevitably do, they have little alternative but to rely on their own limited resources to carry on. I enjoyed the switching POVs and the way Simons captured the self-absorption of youth. The twists were well telegraphed and came as no real surprise, but I applaud the way she showed us rather than told us. That’s how I fell in love with Blake.
I don’t want to give away spoilers, but there is a link to this story and that of Tatiana and Alexander. That link kept me reading even when the subject matter got heavier, and the finale is just lovely. The only thing missing for me is that I would have liked to have seen what Moody thought of their adventures once the teens returned to Maine.
While not as wonderful and epic as The Bronze Horseman, this is one of Paullina Simons’ best works and I would highly recommend it.
***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***
My rating: 4/5