I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Map of the Heart
Love and family. War and secrets. Betrayal and redemption.
Widowed by an unspeakable tragedy, Camille Palmer has made her peace with the past and settled into the quiet safety of life with her teenage daughter Julie in a sleepy coastal town. Then the arrival of a mysterious package breaks open the door to her family’s secret past. In uncovering a hidden history, Camille has no idea that she’s embarking on an adventure that will utterly transform her.
Camille, Julie, and Camille’s father return to the French town of his youth, sparking unexpected memories — recollections that will lead them back to the dark days of the Second World War. And it is in the stunning Provençal countryside that they will uncover their family’s surprising history.
While Provence offers answers about the past, it also holds the key to Camille’s future. Along the way, she meets a former naval officer who stirs a passion deep within her — a feeling that she thought she’d never experience again.
Map of the Heart is a heartwarming tale that highlights the many ups and downs of women’s fiction. The story focuses heavily on the relationships between family members and the drama of every day life.
Whenever I’m in the mood for women’s fiction, I always turn to a Susan Wiggs story. She has a way of making me get lost in the storytelling. There are always those aspects of an underlying sadness as well. Camille’s background was sad enough with her guilt of how she lost her husband (we actually don’t find out the full story until quite a ways into the story), but also with the way that guilt trickled down to her daughter, Julie.
Julie came off as the typical teenage character and at first I was not having it with the attitude, but that quickly goes away after more of her story starts coming out. It’s a sad tale and the angst is real.
Not sure if I was a hundred percent invested in Camille though. She seemed a little self absorbed. I mean, she misses all of the cues of Julie’s issues and she’s a little stubborn when it comes to trying to fix her issues. I understand that she suffered a loss, but it happened long before the actual story timeline, that I wasn’t sure why she was still so affected. There is a lot of guilt involved and I don’t know why we weren’t shown the whole backstory early on. Because, by then, I’d already formed my opinion of her.
The best part of the story, in my opinion, happens at the halfway mark. The story changes gears by flashing back to the past during WWII in France. I loved finding out about Camille’s Grandmother. I just wished there was more of that storyline. I was totally feeling the forbidden love theme in this storyline, which totally made up for the confusing love story between Camille and Finn.
Understandably, Finn starts of pissed off at her, but the sudden change of angry to “Oh man, but she’s so hot, I want to sleep with her. I guess I can forgive her” was so annoying.
So, Julie’s story and the flashbacks totally elevated the overall rating of the story.
“Feelings could not be plucked from thin air or manufactured out of whole cloth. If they didn’t develop from a slow burn, or if they didn’t strike her with the force of a tsunami, they simply weren’t meant to be, and she couldn’t force them.”