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If I Could Tell You by Elizabeth Wilhide
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If I Could Tell You

by Elizabeth Wilhide

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173587,099 (2.5)5

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Usually I do not read romance novels, but this one pulled me in. The setting is WWII. Before the war came to England, Julia Compton was secure in her love of her son, and her life with a handsome man who met all financial needs. The life style was good, friends were of the country club set, and Julia thought she was quite satisfied.

Then, a dashing film maker and his crew came to town, and her life is turned upside down. Operating from the heart instead of her head, she longs for Dougie with a passion she never previously felt.

When her husband discovers her indiscretion, she is tossed out. Moving with Dougie, who is also married, to live in London while his wife took their three daughters to live in Canada while the war raged one, all too soon Julia longs for her son and bit by bit sees the flawed man she is with.

Julia learns that she wasn't wise in her decision. This period novel focuses on the penniless condition of Julia, and the different lifestyles and values of she and Dougie. Dougie refuses to help with the financial cost of her divorce and, because she has no means of her own, she is straddled between two lives.

There are shades of Anna Karenina in this book wherein the women leaves a comfortable lifestyle only to suffer severe consequences for her choice. Shunned by society, she drifts alone without a safety net or ship to cling to.

Good writing amid the backdrop of war, excellent character development, and a story that keeps the reader drawn into the pages, make this a book I recommend. ( )
  Whisper1 | Jun 13, 2017 |
I am so, so sadden by the outcome I had with this book. This book is right up my alley so I was thoroughly looking forward to reading it. However, it was quickly apparent that I shared no connections to the characters or the story. This is the type of story where it suffers if there is no human connection between the reader (me) and the characters. Yet, I will tell you that I held out hope that the story would get better as I progressed. I still think that there is hope for this book, I just could not stick with it to the end. I barely got a third of the way in. ( )
  Cherylk | Feb 28, 2017 |
More 4.5 than 4

The blurb describes very well the general plot but for me the telling phrase is she has "a handsome husband who pays the bills". This is not the way I'd hope most of us would describe a husband and is suggestive of a practical arrangement rather than a happy, fulfilling marriage. Little wonder then, that Julia has her head turned by the advances of a handsome, married, bohemian film-maker Dougie Birdsall.

Without describing plot and giving away spoilers, I'd like to say why I loved this book. First of all I'll admit that Brief Encounter is one of my favourite films of all time and this had echoes of the prim and proper Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) meeting the charismatic Dr Harvey (Trevor Howard). Only in this instance Julia is the bored suburban houswife who is more than tempted and Dougie is the stranger with it transpires little moral integrity. Unlike the film, Julia and Dougie, ignore the prevailing social mores and embark on an affair that has irreversible consequences, especially for Julia.

This is a wonderful period piece that presents a portrait of a relationship in turmoil and how society viewed adultery/divorce. Adultery was nothing new, but as a respectable wife and mother having an affair, Julia paid dearly for her choices. As a woman, she became essentially persona non grata, within her social circle/family and her actions are deemed morally reprehensible. Set against the backdrop of the Blitz, it also highlights the contradictions of a growing live-for-the-moment attitude and changing sexual attitudes among the young.

It offers an interesting insight into life on the Homefront during the war. This ranges from practical day to day living and rationing constraints to an insight into the Ministry of Information and how it worked to present positive images and morale boosting films to aid the war effort. The war is a pivotal feature in the story as it engineers Julia and Dougie's meeting and also, without spoilers, her salvation.

It is a book that creates a range of emotions and really draws you in, not all the characters are likeable but they are very well drawn, and realistic, making this a great read, that I'd happily recommend. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author based on this.

I received a review copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.


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  Jilldoyle | Mar 27, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0241209595, Hardcover)

'Vivid, candid, engaging. So honest' Helen Dunmore Suffolk, 1939: Julia Compton has a beautifully well-ordered life. Once a promising musician, she now has a handsome husband who pays the bills, a young son she adores and a housekeeper who takes care of her comfortable home. Then on the eve of war something unexpected happens. She falls in love. The consequences are devastating. Cut off from family and friends, Julia loses everything. Penniless, denied access to her son, completely unequipped to fend for herself, she is cast adrift in wartime London with her bohemian filmmaker lover Dougie. As invasion looms and the bombs rain down her struggle is only beginning. While Dougie seeks truth wherever he can find it, Julia finds herself lost. Before long, ruined and broken, she faces a choice - succumb to her fate, or fight to forge a new identity in the heat of war.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 12 Jan 2016 12:39:46 -0500)

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