Hastings District Libraries

Monday, 27 November 2017

The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan

Author Elizabeth Buchan explores the themes around women's lives and changing social views post World War Two. Described as historical fiction, The New Mrs Clifton is a gripping, authentic feeling novel, building to a dramatic climax. The ongoing mystery and twists up to the last page had me hooked.

London's Clapham Common, 1974, and a young couple discover a skeleton wrapped around the roots of an old sycamore tree on their new property. The pathologist dated the young woman’s death between 1945 and 1947, noting that the trauma to the back of the head was considerable and that she had probably been killed by a blunt object.

The novel then winds back to Clapham Common in 1945, where Gus Clifton, former barrister turned intelligence agent and secretly married in Berlin, is arriving with his new German bride Krista to Gus's family home where his two sisters Julia and Tilly live. His siblings find his behaviour truly shocking - why has he married Krista who is, after all, the enemy? Gus and Krista are not in love, she's not pregnant and why did he change his mind about Nella, his beautiful loyal fiancée and close friend of the two sisters?

The characters are all so compelling and well-drawn that I felt for them all. Krista, who had seen and experienced terrible horrors in the war and now living in London, hated and rejected by practically everyone except her husband; Julia, whose RAF husband Martin was lying dead somewhere in Europe and whose baby daughter born far too soon after the shock of Martin's death, did not survive; Tilly, a damaged bohemian who had freedom during the war but has difficulty with post war life; and Nella who along with her brother Teddy cannot understand Gus's rejection of her in favour of Krista. The two families' close relationship pre-war begin to unravel.

Posted by VT

Catalogue link: The New Mrs Clifton

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