Reviewed by Jenni Cahill
In 1943, while working as a filing clerk for M15, Constance Carruthers is asked to take a more active role in the country’s fight in the Second World War. After intensive training, Connie and the other agents will be deployed to Occupied France where their main objective is to sabotage the Nazi regime. Connie’s new husband is missing in action and with nothing else to keep her in England, she agrees to risk her life for her country.
During the spring of 1998, Emilie de la Martinieres’ mother passes away. Emilie has mixed feelings about her mother’s death, they didn’t have a close bond due to her mother's indifference towards her as a child resulting in Emilie feeling alone and invisible. As the last remaining member of the once rich and influential de la Martiniere family, Emilie inherits the ancestral home and, while searching the cellar, she discovers a blocked off room. Despite the claustrophobic gloominess and minimal natural light, it is evident that the room was once inhabited. With the help of her father’s old friend, Emilie begins to unlock the secrets of her family’s past. She discovers the role they played during the war and unearths the resident of the secret room and also how and why that person was locked away from view.
When I read the blurb for The Light Behind The Window, I thought the book sounded intriguing, but I don’t think it expressed how truly wonderful the book is. The Light Behind The Window is full of suspense as Connie crosses over to France to carry out her duties, and mystery, with Emilie learning about Connie’s mission and about Sophia, the aunt she has never met and who is rarely mentioned by her family.
The book is set in both the 1940s, telling Connie’s heroic story, and the late 90s, as Emilie unearths the de la Martinieres’ secrets. To begin with I enjoyed Connie’s adventure more than Emilie’s story but, as time went on, I found myself enjoying them equally. I felt Connie was a courageous young woman, putting herself in danger for her beliefs. There were many complex characters and relationships in the book, from Sebastian and Alex Carruthers, Connie’s warring grandsons, to Edouard de la Martinieres and his younger sister, Sophia.
The Light Behind The Window is a tale of love, trust, betrayal and forgiveness with mystery, suspense and adventure thrown in. I enjoyed the book immensely and was kept guessing by the many twists and turns until the very end.
The Light Behind The Window is published by Pan and will be out on 30th August.
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