✓ Read ¾ The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan ↠´ As The Second World War Draws To A Close, Gus Clifton, Feared Lost In Germany, Surprises His Sisters At Their Family Home But An Even Greater Shock Is The Woman He Brings Home, Krista The German Wife Whom He Has Married Secretly In Berlin Gus S Sisters Can Only See The Enemy Their Brother Has Brought Under Their Roof And Their Friend Nella, Gus S Beautiful, Loyal Fianc E, Cannot Understand What Made Gus Change His Mind About Their Marriage What Hold Does Krista Have Over Their Honourable And Upright Gus And How Can The Three Women Get Her Out Of Their Home, Their Future, Their England It is an interesting storyline and shows how the war influences the lives of so many people on all sides It took a little while to get into the story but I felt that the ending was a little rushed Many characters did not really add anything to the story or you felt they might play a role to only fizzle away.
There are many historical novels centred around war and the horror it inflicted but none have touched my heart as much as The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan Haunting, raw, and so very emotional, this is a story of the wreckage and damage that is left behind, and how people must now face the reality of what they have done to survive.
When Gus Clifton arrives home with his new wife, it sends shock waves through his family and both of his sisters are stunned that he has forgotten about their friend, Nella, whom Gus had all but promised marriage But the biggest shock is that his new wife is German Julia cannot forgive her brother for bringing this woman into their home since the love of her life was killed during the War, and with this intrusion, Julia struggles to find her place in the world any Tilly, the youngest sister, has a open view of life and wants to try to be friends with their new sister in law, but dark shadows haunt her as she yearns to be noticed and to truly belong somewhere.
Judged by many as the enemy even though the war is now over, Krista will have to navigate carefully this new life that stands in front of her, no matter how many nightmares from the past try to pull her back down She misses her homeland even though it haunts her and marrying Gus was her only hope of survival But can she really trust her unlikely husband And can this moment of safety ever last Her life has shown her that nothing can be trusted The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan will make you question just how far you would go to survive, how you would cope with the horrific acts that these characters have witnessed, experienced, and committed, and this novel will make you feel deeply moved throughout The characters are damaged and broken, but never defeated, and this backbone of inner strength that shines through the pages really is mind blowing As the story develops, you will find answers to some of your questions, but it is at the very end that all will become clear.
The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan is a masterpiece of historical fiction that does not always make for comfortable reading but will consume you from the very first page, and I really hope it receives the huge applause that it richly deserves I voluntarily reviewed this book from the Publisher Compelling, beautifully written story set in drab, bomb damaged Clapham just after the end of WW II The story itself is anything but drab, with an engaging central character in Krista, the German wife who has been brought to London from the ruins of a defeated Berlin, with all its attendant horrors The author deploys her research with a light touch, and this is expert story telling Highly recommended.
The New Mrs Clifton, has a promising storyline and is set between London and Berlin at the end of WWII Londoners are bereft of spirit and the resources to rebuild their lives, but this pales into insignificance in comparison to the conditions being suffered in post war, occupied, ruined Berlin.
The plot and the settings are vivid, unlike most of the characters, who, with the exception of Krista, are difficult to empathise with, and I struggled with the writing style, which seemed to stop the flow at times.
Interesting and enjoyable even so.
For my full review 1970s London, a couple have just moved into their new home and found a grisly discovery in the back garden There are the remains of a woman, aged between twenty five and thirty, wrapped in a garment of blue wool Estimated to have died between 1945 and 1947, at some point in the woman s short life, she had given birth She had also suffered from Vitamin D deficiency and the trauma to the back of the head indicated that she had probably been killed by a blunt object From here, the story loops back to 1945, leaving this dark ultimate fate hovering over the novel, with the reader uncertain as to where it would land Gus Clifton is back from the war and with him is his new wife, but it is not his long term love Nella whom he has wed, but rather the skeletal Krista, a German For his sisters, the widowed Julia and the wayward Tilly, his behaviour is baffling and an utter betrayal of all they have fought for over the past six years But why has he done it, when the bride is neither pregnant nor in love with him Is The New Mrs Clifton here to stay or can she be persuaded to go away Elizabeth Buchan is an established author with a long and varied career, but it was only with her previous novel I Can t Begin To Tell You that I came across her Like The New Mrs Clifton, that book also focused on how events of wartime can knock someone s moral compass to the point where they barely recognise themselves Yet somehow, I Can t Begin To Tell You had a friendlier feel, featuring Ruby and Kay who felt like they were trying to do the right thing The New Mrs Clifton is instead peopled by characters who used to be nice, who had once had lives that they liked but who have had all that they once cherished stripped away Julia had been the attractive wife of the RAF officer, carrying his child After her husband s death, the comrades who had once admired her were keen to have her shuffled out of the barracks, a too sad reminder of the consequences of failed missions Then the daughter slipped out to the world too soon No longer a wife, robbed of motherhood, Julia is without purpose and furious at this representative of the nation she feels took away all she ever wanted Tilly appears less openly combative but her very deliberate attempts to court scandal do not make her a reliable ally.
With a cluster of thorny and fuming British characters, Krista is the most sympathetic character Indeed, it is her perspective which opens the novel, as the train pulls into Waterloo We see her uncertainty around her new husband, her quiet acknowledgment of how little she knows of him He is so solicitous, she shies from his touch At bedtime in the family home, he offers to sleep in the dressing room and she forces herself to decline although the scent of him makes her nauseous She has nightmares, flashbacks to post war Berlin and the repeated rapes by Allied soldiers, the rapes that happened too often to be recognised as individual incidents The nightmare of the fallen Berlin has left her traumatised but as her secrets are gradually revealed over the course of the novel, we also come to recognise her strength.
Buchan seems to have an interest in the lesser celebrated events of World War Two, such as the Danish resistance in I Can t Begin To Tell You or as in here with the dark events which unfolded after the German surrender Gus is involved in hush hush work, tracking those suspected of war crimes and although marrying a German has not done his career any favours at all, his expertise is still needed and Krista too is required to help The sequence in which Mr and Mrs Clifton team up for an interrogation is spell binding, again offering a portrayal of events which mainstream World War Two fiction tends to overlook Krista s role as the German collaborating with the Allies is also fascinating, with the Nazi war criminal expressing disgust at her treachery, while on the other side of the table, Gus colleagues also look at her in disdain The world was a frightening place for a German after the war, even if one was innocent of war crimes Krista realises that although she has left the obvious dangers of Berlin, life as an enemy alien in Britain holds dangers of its own.
There is something deeply sinister about The New Mrs Clifton, with the jilted Nella hovering in the park to spy on Krista, or Julia having angry outbursts in the kitchen, then Tilly s sweet confidences to her sister in law that she just might be happier back in Germany with her friends Throughout the novel, I wondered which of the women would be the one to dug up from the flowerbed thirty years later likely candidates varied Unfortunately, I did feel that the denouement for this plot thread was rather disappointing after such a build up, it just didn t feel satisfying That being said, given that the narrative never returns to the 1970s, I did wonder a little where the other characters ever discovered the truth Still, despite my lukewarm feelings about that aspect of the novel, I was blown away by the novel s final pages which left me analysing the whole story right back to the beginning I still have a lot of spoilerific thoughts and would love to hear from someone else who had read the book.
The New Mrs Clifton summons up down trodden and exhausted post war Britain in painful detail and with a very sharp sense of place It reminded me of walking along a Victorian street in London with a friend who pointed out Bomb hit there , And another one , A bomb over there too , whenever he saw a modern semi detached house scattered among London was a battlefield in the war is it any wonder that people struggled to return to their pre war selves after the fighting stopped The conundrum of whether to forget, to pretend that certain things never happened at all or that certain others had occurred in a different way to the truth it is something that we are still struggling with The spirit of the Blitz was a myth The French resistance a fairy story The Germans knew about the Holocaust while it was happening, as did plenty of other people Very few people come out of the war smelling of roses and it is a sign of Buchan s maturity as a writer that she can construct a novel around these uncomfortable and unpalatable truths Gus and Krista did meet in a library, but the story of how she became The New Mrs Clifton is not one that their wider circle will ever be told.
This book is different from most war novels I have read as it focuses on the immediate aftermath of WW2 A fascinating social history from the point of view of a German living in post war London I was engrossed until the very end.
Novel set in post WW2 CLAPHAM finding colour in life This review first appeared on our blog where the author talks about her research for historical location novel is beautifully written, with a layering of melancholia that never really lifts, reflecting the era The wording, too, is suffused with monochrome tones and detai,l as the people in Clapham try to pick over their lives and get back on their feet The colours just aren t as vivid as they were fore the war.
It s 1945 and Gus has been on secret operations in Berlin, and after the war returns to his sisters Julia and Tilly, and to face Nella the woman he was due to marry before he left England But now he has a German wife in tow, Krista, and together they arrive, to shocked reactions all round.
This is a story of loss and survival, and what people do to get by Gus, now living in Clapham with his family members, is still the master of secrecy His wife Krista is plagued by dreadful memories of the war, only alluded to initially.
Their marriage is, well, odd it seems of an arrangement Teddy, Nella s brother is hell bent on revenge, wishing to punish Gus for rejecting his sister And his shrewd and shady dealings start to ensnare others into his unpleasant world.
The setting is bleak, the houses around Clapham Common are scored with cracks from German bombing they look like rows of teeth, with gaps, as portrayed on the cover of the book pictured Berlin, where both Gus and Krista spent the war is an utterly devastated city, where women die Tr mmerfrauen now search the ruins for any means to survive Krista, as a German living in London so soon after terrible events, meets all kinds of hostility, but she has a strength and perspicacity that helps her manage the onslaught of demeaning and aggressive encounters.
As the novel opens, it is 1974 and new owners in the terrace discover a body, so we may guess that someone somewhere along the line dies.
This book is in part an exploration of the luxury of having a good moral compass When life has been destroyed, people have to resort to scheming and subterfuge to cleave their way through daily routine No food, no luxury and a hand to mouth existence inevitably can lead to moral turpitude How do you get back to normality and lead a decent life after such a deeply devastating period in world history The author pens a fluid and thoughtful contemplation of human resolve and resourcefulness, bringing the aftermath of war to vivid life Recommended.
Four and a half starsGus, who works for the British government, returns to England after the end of World War 2 To the shock and dismay of his two sisters Julia and Tilly, he returns not to marry their friend and his fianc e Nella It turns out he is already married And has brought his German wife Krista home to England Julia s husband was killed during the war and given Germans were the enemy she cannot comprehend how Gus has brought home a German wife, especially since they don t appear to be madly in love Teddy, Nella s brother and a long time friend of Gus, is also outraged The war may be over but for many it is still going on within This is England still in the grips of the aftermath of the war and rationing severe I found the characters very well portrayed Their behaviour and reactions came across as real The horrors of war are presented well and the reader also gets to experience Krista s attitudes toward their British and their Russian allies Forgiveness is not something that comes easily, forgetting even less so I found this an interesting read While I have read other novels set around the war, this one did tend to give a bit different perspective Towards the end tension is certainly ramped up and my heart was racing Ultimately a secret revealed in the first chapter in 1974 is uncovered It is a book about survival and the lengths people will go to survive It is not always be a comfortable read but it certainly raises lots of questions A thought provoking historical novel where a lot is going on under the surface.
A body is found in the garden when a new couple move in but to whom does it belong I found The New Mrs Clifton a mesmerising read and one that frequently made me very uncomfortable because so much of it is based on past horrific experiences and I wondered just how I might have behaved and acted in similar ones I think one of the great successes of the story is that Elizabeth Buchan makes the reader think and question their beliefs and certainties I had a far better understanding of the effects of WW2 on the ordinary person after the war than I had really had before and reading the book made me glad I was born well afterwards The uncovering of inherent racism, corruption and manipulation at all levels is totally convincing.
The narrative style was just as good as I hoped and expected from an Elizabeth Buchan novel There s an intensity and claustrophobia that is palpable and much of the effect comes as much from what isn t said as what is so that I experienced the same responses and emotions as the characters The three main women, Krista, Julia and Tilly, are magnificent creations so that each was very real I understood their frailties, desires and fears completely Despite Kritsa s displacement and the fact that she deserves the reader sympathy, it was Julia I felt most for She begins as an odious individual but by the end of the novel she had my complete understanding and I felt almost as sorry for her as for Krista.
I loved the plot The way Elizabeth Buchan drops in the tiny daily details that enhance setting or our understanding of her characters emotions to her ability to present the most startling information with a pared down sentence that shocks the reader makes her writing incredibly satisfying to read Towards the end I found my heart rate increased dramatically as I headed to a knowledge of whose body was in the garden.
The New Mrs Clifton is an intelligent, and unsettling, book that makes the reader wonder just what they themselves might be capable of in extreme circumstances I won t forget it in a very long while.
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