Time and Regret
by M.K. Tod
Release Date: August 16th 2016
2016 Lake Union Publishing
Ebook Edition; 353 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from HF Virtual Book Tours
4 / 5 Stars
When Grace Hansen finds a
box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the
key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his
World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to
solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across
towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes
increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that
someone is following her…
Through her grandfather’s vivid writing
and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one
who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die
horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her
grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace
learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.
Time and Regret is the author's third novel and it definitely doesn't disappoint. A huge fan of Great War literature, I was pleasantly surprised by the Canadian content in this one and was thrilled by the Canadian focus given in the journals as the main character was from Toronto. Although I enjoyed Grace's discovery of the diaries and her trip to France, it was definitely the journal pages and the subsequent trips back to the Great War through Martin's POV that was the highlight for me.
War diaries and journals are nothing new in the world of war literature, nor is a quest or search for something that grandpa may have kept hidden from the rest of his family; in fact, these types of stories are quite rich in literature. Tracing Martin's life through his journals gave us a unique insight into his personality and allowed the author to make those POV changes without too much disruption to the story. As a history teacher, especially one who teaches Canadian history and the two world wars, I couldn't wait to go back to Martin's story. What I especially liked was the focus; it was on the human side of the war, the cost of life, and the effect it had on the men day in and day out as they continued to fight what they saw as a useless war. There was a lot of anger towards the politicians and the higher-ups for their poor decisions and the resulting cost of life. And reading again the effect The Somme, Vimy Ridge, and Passchendaele had on these men is mind-blowing. No matter how many times I see the stats and read the different accounts, it will always blow me away. The author's research was meticulous in this area, and I have to commend her for this.
I was also impressed by Grace. Coming off a difficult divorce, she was quite insecure and unsure about herself and what she was going to do with her life. I really loved this about her as it made her seem real and approachable; the author chose a main character to whom you could really relate, and understand her insecurities as it made you want to root for her to succeed. Maybe because I have children close in age to Grace's, I could appreciate her life and the struggles she might be having. I was also jealous of her trip, having been to many of those places, wanting to be there again. I enjoyed the many descriptions of France and the different monuments as I could picture them in my head and see myself there.
I did have a difficult time relating to Grace's grandmother, Cynthia, however. I found her to be quite stubborn and manipulative and cold although I admired the way Grace treated her. The Cynthia in the journals seemed to be a very different person, and I wondered what trials in life would have made a person this way. I do wish we had learned more about her and her life as I'm sure it was quite interesting.
Time and Regret is a very satisfying novel. Accompanied by short chapters, a sweet romance in the form of a sexy curator, a charming mystery, and diaries of the Great War, this novel is very rich in detail and quite interesting. My only complaint would be about the ending as it felt rushed, allowing the emotional factor to drop quite a bit and it was the emotional factor that gave this novel its edge. The mystery was quite easy to solve for those of you who are mystery readers, but that wasn't why I liked the novel; I liked the intensity of the emotions. That being said, I really enjoyed this novel, including the ending, and would definitely recommend it to my fellow readers.
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