All The Ways We Said Goodbye – by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White – independent book review – Historical Fiction (France)

Awarded three stars on Goodreads but 3.5 is more accurate. Definitely short of four.

I admit when I first saw this book — written by three bestselling authors –two of whom I have read many times and admire — I was skeptical. It smacked of gimmickry. (Was this just an easy way for successful authors to make an extra buck?) But as the book progressed, I mostly got passed that. Mostly.

It’s an historical novel that spans half of the 20th century, made up of three distinct narratives, with parts of each story taking place at the prestigious Ritz Hotel in Paris. (I assume each of the three authors penned one of the three stories, but that’s pure conjecture.)

The Stories (no spoilers):
1914 – During World War I, at a castle owned by a centuries-old noble French family (de Courcelles), the family finds their daughter (Aurelie) caught between her loyalty to family and country and her attraction to an occupying German solider.
1942 – While French housewife Daisy Villon and her two young children benefit from her husband’s collaboration with the occupying Nazis, Daisy increasingly finds her loyalty to her husband at odds with her desire to help her country.
1964 – a dowdy and recently widowed Brit (Babs Langford), with three nearly-grown children, heads to France to try to discover the truth behind a woman her late husband loved during World War II.
Not surprisingly, the three stories turn out to be linked, though it takes a bit to figure out how. In each there is budding romance (of course), a few family secrets, women coming into their own, and a few children working out issues with parents.

Unfortunately, I found I was able to accurately predict where each story would lead and how the secrets, once exposed, would impact each storyline. So there were very few surprises for me.

Ritz Hotel, Paris
Photo from Wikipedia

This is another one of those novels where chapters jump around from story to story, from time period to time period — a structure so many contemporary authors use, which I often find annoying and unnecessary. These story threads could just as easily have been three sequential stories, which would have been much easier to follow. Instead I had to track three separate plots with three distinct sets of characters. So, instead of building suspense (I assume that is what authors using this technique are trying to do), I found all that jumping around and interrupting just made it harder for me to immerse myself into each and connect with the characters.

Overall, it’s a quick read with plenty of drama. But I don’t expect I’ll pick up another book collaboration by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White. (There are two others.)

Click below to learn more about each author:

Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White

Here’s a link to a Forbes article about why these three authors write books together.

You may also be interested in my other reviews of other books by these authors:

The Secret Life of Violet Grant (Beatriz Williams)

Our Woman in Moscow (Beatriz Williams)

Her Last Flight (Beatriz Williams)

The Golden Hour (Beatriz Williams)

Along the Infinite Sea (Beatriz Williams)

Tiny Little Thing (Beatriz Williams)

A Hundred Summers (Beatriz Williams)

A Certain Age (Beatriz Williams)

The Wicked City (Beatriz Williams)

The House on Cocoa Beach (Beatriz Williams)

Summer Wives (Beatriz Williams)

Two Wars and a Wedding (Lauren Willig)

Band of Sisters (Lauren Willig)

The Summer Country (Lauren Willig)

The English Wife (Lauren Willig)

The Ashford Affair (Lauren Willig)


Comments are closed.