Saturday, April 24, 2021

Off the Wild Coast of Brittany by Juliet Blackwell


Juliet Blackwell modeled her fictional island, Ile de Feme, after a fishing island in the region of Brittany. Relying upon supplies carried by boat from the mainland required some forethought and planning for the inhabitants of the island.  But planning is something Natalie has always been good at. Raised in a survivalist home, she had learned to plan for every eventuality except one: losing the love of her life.

Natalie had been drawn to the island by dreams of opening a guesthouse with one of the island's native sons. Their plans to renovate and offer a top-notch lodging and dining experience had been all she had thought about. Their idyllic location and love story had helped her pen a best-selling novel which painted her life as all sunshine and roses. The absence of Natalie's boyfriend, however, creates an awkward situation for Natalie whose publisher is waiting for a sequel to her first book's success.

And then Natalie's sister, Alex, turns up unexpectedly. She is curious about the experiences Natalie has written about. And although they shared an unusual childhood, they took very different paths. Natalie is too ashamed to admit that she was jilted and tries to make excuses to her sister and the islanders. Alex, not one to let any grass grow beneath her feet, dives into the renovations with gusto. Through the work, the sisters develop a greater appreciation for each other. 

Although the guesthouse is far from ready for guests, a desperate visitor begs to stay and he soon makes himself useful as a friend. Jean-Luc has his own hurts and disappointments but offers a fresh perspective on life and loss that encourages the sisters to live life more fully.

Woven throughout the story are characters that lived on the island during World War II. Readers will be fascinated by the lengths islanders went to defy the Nazi occupiers. And as Natalie seeks to learn about the events from the past, she learns to be honest and vulnerable with others and finds the courage to forge a new path for herself.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of Off the Wild Coast of Brittany from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

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