When I read the blurb, for The Lost Girl by Carol Drinkwater, I must have only read the first half because, when I started it, I was thinking, “What am I reading?” The hook-line on the top of the cover is ‘A missing daughter. A desperate mother. A night that changes everything...’ I suppose I was expecting a murder mystery or psychological thriller, or something along those lines, but what I got was something totally different and it turned out to be a lovely and engrossing read albeit one which was also capable of considerably racking up the nail-biting tension.
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The story starts in Post World War II, 1947, Paris whereas I was expecting a contemporary setting for the mystery of The Lost Girl.
It turns out that this could be a tale of a few Lost Girls: single mothers, a career-hungry young actress, a mother frantically searching for her daughter, who went missing 4 years ago and the daughter herself.
The novel comprises of the two life stories of two strangers who find themselves brought together on the night of the terrible terrorist attacks, in Paris, in 2015.
Cleverly told in a combination of both contemporary 2015 and flashback sequences, it builds up the back stories of these two women who are brought together by chance but who have far more in common then they at first imagine.
English, War Photographer, Kurtiz, is in Paris, following up a possible link to her missing daughter and Marguerite, an elderly, but still glamorous actress who is a resident of Paris, find themselves sitting next to each other in a bar and a somewhat stilted conversation ensues.
With Kurtiz far too distracted by the thought of possibly finding her missing daughter and Marguerite leaving the bar early, if not for an horrific event, on Marguerite’s doorstep, just as Kurtiz was passing, their paths may never have crossed again. However, with their tentative connection, the two women find that the horrific events pull them together in solidarity and Kurtiz is rather begrudgingly, forced to accept the other woman’s kindness and help.
I got totally drawn into the back stories of both women and, after a bit of a slow start (only due to my misapprehension) I ended up not being able to put it down.
The Lost Girl is a captivating novel which encompasses many different micro-worlds. From the horrors of World War II, and the effects that they had on the individuals directly involved and the knock on effects for those left behind, to the present harsh realities of war, captured by Kurtiz behind the lens and the ongoing war imposed by terrorists. The Movie-world of the past with the glamour and themes that would now be hash-tagged #MeToo and the present day highs and lows of the Acting world. From Kent and London to Paris and the glorious sun-filled fields of Provence. This web of tangled threads comes neatly together in a most satisfactory conclusion – at least for some, if not all....
Actress Carol Drinkwater, became a household name when she played Helen, the wife of Vet, James Herriot in the well-loved BBC TV series, All Creatures Great and Small.
When, along with her French husband, Michel, Carol bought, what turned out to be an Olive Farm, in France, she wrote a series of books, recounting their trials and tribulations. I read these, one after the other, when they were first published and really enjoyed them so, when I saw this novel by Carol I was intrigued enough to read it. I’m really pleased that I did as I now know that Carol Drinkwater writes fiction as well as she does fact.
Not at all what I expected, when I picked up this book but, The Lost Girl kept this girl lost in the disparate worlds of both Kurtiz and Marguerite – two women from two different eras who both lived full and interesting lives, expertly written by Carol Drinkwater. An excellent and delightful read, which I can highly recommend.
The Lost Girl paperback, was published on March 8th 2018 by Penguin UK - Michael Joseph.