All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Guardian Of Lies by Kate Furnivall

on August 29, 2019

The Guardian Of Lies
Kate Furnivall
Simon & Schuster AUS
2019, 416p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

1953, the South of France. The fragile peace between the West and Soviet Russia hangs on a knife edge. And one family has been torn apart by secrets and conflicting allegiances.

Eloïse Caussade is a courageous young Frenchwoman, raised on a bull farm near Arles in the Camargue. She idolises her older brother, André, and when he leaves to become an Intelligence Officer working for the CIA in Paris to help protect France, she soon follows him. Having exchanged the strict confines of her father’s farm for a life of freedom in Paris, her world comes alive. 

But everything changes when André is injured – a direct result of Eloise’s actions. Unable to work, André returns to his father’s farm, but Eloïse’s sense of guilt and responsibility for his injuries sets her on the trail of the person who attempted to kill him.

Eloïse finds her hometown in a state of unrest and conflict. Those who are angry at the construction of the American airbase nearby, with its lethal nuclear armaments, confront those who support it, and anger flares into violence, stirred up by Soviet agents. Throughout all this unrest, Eloïse is still relentlessly hunting down the man who betrayed her brother and his country, and she is learning to look at those she loves and at herself with different eyes. She no longer knows who she can trust. Who is working for Soviet Intelligence and who is not? And what side do her own family lie on?

I seem to have a knack lately for picking books that share similarities one after the other. The last book I read contained an element of espionage/spying etc and so does this one, albeit in a very different time. This book is set in the early 1950s when the threat of Germany in World War II has been dispatched but now there’s a very different sort of threat looming, that of Russia and communism. Set in France, this is the struggle of keeping that communism at bay and out of France. The Americans are willing to help but they also want something in return – land to increase the size of their air bases in France. And it’s a population torn apart – those who see the value of communism as the way forward and those that see it as the scourge of the earth that must be obliterated.

Eloise was born in rural France and raised on their father’s bull farm but she flees to Paris as a young woman, following in the footsteps of her older brother Andre. Andre kind of takes her under his wing, training her almost and he uses her sometimes to complete basic tasks. When Andre is injured whilst Eloise is driving, she’s filled with guilt and determined to find out just who it was that tried to kill her brother – and why. Even when he tells her not to, or maybe especially when he tells her not too. She ends up back in her childhood home and danger lurks around every corner and the plot seems to thicken until Eloise is no longer sure what side anyone is on.

This is a pretty engrossing read set in a time of high tension, not just at a national level but also within smaller localities and even families. The scars of WWII run deep and are still fresh in people’s minds. Everyone is looking for the way to heal those wounds and lead them forward in a more positive way. And then there are opportunists who see any chance to grab power by way of destabilisation so it’s an incredibly volatile time. When Eloise returns home, she’s stunned to realise that her father has sold part of the family farm to the neighbouring US base in order for its expansion so that it can land bigger planes. The family farm has been targeted, Andre sits in his room seemingly a shadow of the man he once was and Eloise finds that everywhere she turns brings more danger.

Eloise was a…..difficult character sometimes. She’s very much in that vein of young, female protagonists who tend to do the very opposite of what is suggested to them in order for them to you know, not be killed. She’s determined and nosy, blunt and confident but also, not as confident as she sometimes appears. She makes blunders and sometimes it does feel like a miracle that she isn’t killed. She’s had some basic training, does some work as a private detective but I don’t think she has the actual makings of a spy. She gives a lot away! I liked her difficult relationship with her brother(s) and her father as well, that was I think, written very well. I also very much enjoyed her friendship/burgeoning relationship with the local police officer, a childhood friend of her brothers. He’s a progressive sort of guy, the type that wants to keep her safe but not lock her in a room and throw away the key.

My minor feel was that the writing was a bit clunky and overdone at times. At one stage the aforementioned police officer compares Eloise’s ‘perfect Parisian skin’ to……an egg? It’s what was in front of him at the time but it was just a bit weird. There’s a lot of flowery stuff about Americans helping and how they’re the saviours of the world from communism as well as some pretty pro-Russian stuff, so it is balanced but it just felt a bit over the top. And some of the characters felt very stereotypical, especially the languid French Parisian beautifully dressed and presented woman who calls everyone cherie.

However I think this did a really good job of presenting the Cold War at a much more local level. We always think of it in terms of the US v Russia and sometimes it can be forgotten that it penetrated down to the lowest levels of society and tore towns and even families apart.

This is the second Kate Furnivall book I’ve read and I’m pretty sure I have a couple more of her books on my TBR shelf so I’m going to have to dig them out and try move them up the pile because I liked these two enough to definitely want to read more by her.


Book #132 of 2019

4 responses to “Review: The Guardian Of Lies by Kate Furnivall

  1. On my tbr! I like Kate Furnivall.

  2. I liked this more than I thought I might 🙂 great review!

  3. Marg says:

    I loved this authors early books. Haven’t read any of her later ones though

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