My mum and my aunt have been telling me for years how wonderful an author Dinah Jefferies is, so I was thrilled to be able to read her latest novel – The Hidden Palace. I love historical fiction and dual timelines, so this sounded just my kind of book. This is the second book in a trilogy, but I didn’t feel confused at all by starting with Book 2.
Chapter One begins in England in August 1944. Florence and Jack are on a train heading for Exeter. Jack’s father Lionel picks them up and takes them to his Devonshire cottage. It is clear they have had some adventures overseas in the War and are now exhausted, dirty and injured.
Florence Baudin is French and has had to leave her older sisters (Helene and Elise) there. Her mother Claudette lives in Gloucestershire though, so she goes to stay with her. Almost as soon as she arrives, her mothers says she has a request – she wants Florence to find out what happened to Rosalie (Claudette’s sister) who ran away from Paris twenty years before and might be in Malta.
Time shifts to 1925 in Paris when we join Rosalie Delacroix and find out more about her story. She then changes her name and moves to Malta. The section of the book about Rosalie felt much faster-paced and I was interested in her journey and liked her straight away.
We move between the two women and different times. This novel has a lot of family secrets to uncover, spread across the decades and several countries. We have the background of politics and the War as the world changes. Not many of the characters are very warm or likeable. Claudette, for example, is quite horrible, as are Rosalie’s (/Claudette’s) parents. Gladys and her duck are wonderful though!
I did find some of the descriptions to be a bit long, especially of the gardens, the weather and the area around them. I felt it sometimes slowed the book down, when I would have preferred a slightly faster pace at times. The chapters were the right length for me though.
If you are looking for a story which is expansive, complex, descriptive and thoughtful, a story which takes in lots of different times and settings, this is for you. If you’re a fan of Rachel Hore, Victoria Hislop and Santa Montefiore, I’m sure you’ll love Dinah Jefferies too.
Published 15th September 2022 | Paperback Original | Ebook | Audio | £8.99
A rebellious daughter
1923. Among the ancient honey-coloured walls of the tiny island of Malta, strangers slip into the shadows and anyone can buy a new name. Rosalie Delacroix flees Paris for a dancer’s job in the bohemian clubs deep in its winding streets.
A sister with a secret
1944. Running from the brutality of war in France, Florence Baudin faces a new life. But her estranged mother makes a desperate request: to find her vanished sister, who went missing years before.
A rift over generations
Betrayals and secrets, lies and silence hang between the sisters. A faded last letter from Rosalie is Florence’s only clue, the war an immovable barrier – and time is running out…
Praise for Dinah Jefferies and Daughters of War:
‘Full of tension’ The Times
‘A wonderfully evocative and sensual writer’ Santa Montefiore
‘A warm and engrossing tale of passion and courage. I loved it’ Rachel Hore
‘Love, grief, abandonment, betrayal and secrets … I adored it’ Liz Nugent
‘A glorious page-turner … a novel to disappear into’ Gill Paul
Dinah Jefferies began her career with The Separation, followed by the number 1 Sunday Times and Richard and Judy bestseller The Tea-Planter’s Wife. Born in Malaysia, she moved to England at the age of nine. When she began writing novels, deeply influenced by her Eastern childhood, she was able to return there on annual research trips for each new novel.
With her most recent bestseller, her seventh novel The Tuscan Contessa, she has moved to writing about a European setting for the first time and continues that in this new series.
She is published in 28 languages and over 30 countries and has twice been a Richard and Judy bookclub pick.
For more information please contact Amy Winchester on email@example.com