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The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan
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The New Mrs Clifton

by Elizabeth Buchan

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In 1974 a young couple move into a house beside Clapham Common in London and begin the long task of doing it up. Some months into their refurbishment, when working in the garden, they make a shocking discovery: the skeleton of a woman in her late twenties, who has been murdered with a blow to the back of the head. She died some time between 1945 and 1947. But who is she? Rewind thirty years to autumn 1945, to a London emaciated and embittered by wartime privation, where the thrill of victory has worn off to leave behind an aching desperation. Intelligence officer Gus Clifton returns home from his posting in Berlin to his family home in Clapham; to his sisters Julia and Tilly, and his fiancee Nella. It should have been a happy homecoming. But it bears a sting in the tail, for Gus comes home with his new wife. Krista. A German woman...

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2018/03/02/the-new-mrs-clifton-elizabeth-buchan/ ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Mar 2, 2018 |
Gus returns from the war a changed man, no longer the middling barrister he has seen and done things he regrets. Now has a new role working for the Foreign Office and a new wife, the fragile and German Krista. This comes as a shock to his sisters, Julia widow of an RAF officer and Tilly a damaged bohemian, and also the family friends, Teddy a solicitor and Nella who is Gus' jilted fiancee. Krista finds it hard to settle into life in the bomb-damaged Clapham terrace that is the situation of the family home, she finds it hard to deal with the prejudice post-war and feels that she doesn't have place in either country. However Krista is a survivor, she has learned that, and when she has a baby she is determined to protect him at all costs.

This book has a great opening, a body found in a Clapham garden in the 1970s and the only clue is that it is of a woman in her late twenties who has had a baby. The rest of the book tells the story of Krista's first year in Clapham but the reader is constantly thinking back to the opening and trying to work out what will happen. There are four women in the story of the right age and there are a lot of red herrings before the twist at the end. However that should not distract from what is a very sad tale about the lives of women after the end of the war. Julia is an attractive woman who lost the man she loved and wants more physical intimacy. Tilly had freedom during the war but cannot cope with life during peacetime. Nella lost the man she loves to another woman and cannot see why. Krista has been through hell but is not a sympathetic character. This is quite a clever book and can be read at different levels. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Aug 26, 2017 |
We know from the opening pages that a murder has been committed, but not whose body it is. The murder is discovered nearly 3 decades after it happened. There are at least 3 possibilities and the identity is not revealed until the last few pages.

This is a novel filled with the aftermath of World War II and full of little mysteries. Central is the hold that Krista has over Gus. Theirs is clearly a marriage of convenience not love, but just who has a hold over who is not clear. The comparisons between Berlin and London are very evocative and thought provoking. Krista is an illustration of how tough and resilient the female survivors of Berlin must have been, but life in post war London is tough especially for a woman speaking with a noticeable German accent.

Gus's sisters Julia and Tilly are struggling to find meaning in their lives especially after their brother's return to the house they have maintained for him during the war years. And Gus's job doesn't make life any easier.

An excellent read, but one that is on the very edges of crime fiction. ( )
  smik | Mar 1, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0718184068, Hardcover)

As the Second World War draws to a close, Intelligence Officer Gus Clifton surprises his sisters at their London home. But an even greater shock is the woman he brings with him, Krista - the German wife whom he has married secretly in Berlin. Krista is clearly devastated by her experiences at the hands of the British and their allies - all but broken by horrors she cannot share. But Gus's sisters can only see the enemy their brother has brought under their roof. And their friend Nella, Gus's beautiful, loyal fiancée, cannot understand what made Gus change his mind about their marriage. What hold does Krista have over their honourable and upright Gus? And how can the three women get her out of their home, their future, their England? Haunted by passion, betrayal and misunderstanding these damaged souls are propelled towards a spectacular resolution. Krista has lost her country, her people, her identity, and the ties that bind her to Gus hold more tightly than the sisters can ever understand... Praise for The New Mrs Clifton 'A truly wonderful writer. Her books are rich with authentic period detail and her characters are vivid and intensely believable - I love this book' Peter James Praise for Elizabeth Buchen 'Impressive . . . nerve-janglingly engrossing . . . Buchan brings the period vividly to life' Sunday Times 'A scintillating WWII story packed with gripping espionage and a tremendous lead character. Constructed with skill and elegance - no one writes a cliff-hanger scene like Buchan - it's a breathtaking read' The Week

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 11 Aug 2016 13:18:45 -0400)

As the Second World War draws to a close, Gus Clifton, having been working with the interrogation teams in Germany and out of touch with his family, surprises his sisters at their home. But an even greater shock is the woman he brings home, Krista - the German wife whom he has married secretly in Berlin. Gus's sisters can only see the enemy their brother has brought under their roof. And their friend Nella, Gus's beautiful, loyal fiancee, cannot understand what made Gus change his mind about their marriage. What hold does Krista have over their honourable and upright Gus? And how can the three women get her out of their home, their future, their England?… (more)

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