Susan Wiggs, but her latest Map of the Heart seems like a departure from her prior books. That's a good thing. There's still the family dramas and contemporary romance elements that I've come to love in her books. But in this book there's also a connection to the past, specifically World War II France. She blends the past with the present in a descriptive and often times haunting way. This period in history was filled with strife and pain, which is still being felt in the present day.
Widowed Camille Adams is struggling with the death of her husband. It's been years since Jace died, but his loss is felt in every aspect of her life and their daughter, Julie's, life. When Jace died, so did Camille's zest for fun, traveling, and adventure. With Jace she used to throw caution to the wind and take chances with life. Those days are over. Instead Camille chooses to stick close to home, if she does travel it's by car or by train. But she still manages to harness her passion for photography by restoring old images or film. This passion leads Camille to her newest client, handsome professor Malcolm "Finn" Finnemore. Finn's father went missing during the Vietnam War. Recently discovered film, in his father's belongings, could provide some answers on his disappearance. They have to. Finn has pinned all of his hopes on this film. Those answers don't come when Camille accidentally damages the film. That should be the end of Camille and Finn's interaction, but of course fate and family keep bringing them together.
While Camille has a potential budding romance, her daughter is drowning -- literally and figuratively. Like Camille, Julie's life has never been the same since Jace died. The once happy and popular kid has turned into a sullen, moody, and isolated teenager. There's something more going on with Julie, but Camille is struggling with how to help her daughter. Getting more than a few words out of Julie is like pulling teeth. Only Camille's father can soften Julie's rough exterior and get to the heart of the matter. Camille's father had his own struggles growing up in World War II France. Camille's father was the son of a Nazi sympathizer, a label no one wanted in their small town. In America, Camille's father got to be someone else. He got to have a family. He got to experience a free life. But Camille's father wants to revisit his past, he wants to go back to where he grew up. And he wants Camille and Julie to go with him. Camille fights against it. This trip is about more than Camille's dad confronting his past. Camille will have to confront her past. She will have to confront her fears. She will also have to confront her feelings for Finn.
I enjoyed this book, but I did have some issues with it. There are certain romance tropes that I can't stand. One being two characters who have trouble dating other people, but once they met "the one" they can't stop thinking about each other. There's a spark. They can't understand where this attraction is coming from. This book has that trope. I wish it didn't, but I was able to get past it!
Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) as part of a blog tour with TLC Book Tours.