Book Review: The Escape by Clare Harvey

Today I am reviewing Historical Fiction author Clare Harvey's new book, The Escape, a compelling wartime drama for fans of Lucinda Riley, Rachel Hore and Katherine Webb.

Title: The Escape 
Author: Clare Harvey
Published: January 24th 2018 by Simon & Schuster

Blurb: Detta works as a translator for a Nazi-run labour camp for French workers. One winter morning in early 1945, Detta passes a group of exhausted British prisoners of war who are being force-marched westwards. The following day she receives an urgent message to contact the local priest. He is harbouring a group of escaped British prisoners of war in the manse: can she help? 

London, 1989. Miranda is a 19-year old photography student in London, in thrall to her older boyfriend, a journalist called Quill. In November the fall of the Berlin Wall is all over the news. Quill asks Miranda to come with him to Germany: before they leave, Miranda's grandmother gives her an old postcard of the village she was born in. Miranda hopes that working together in Berlin will help cement the cracks in her relationship with Quill, but one night his behaviour spills over into violence, and Miranda ends up fleeing through the rubble of the Berlin wall and into the East. As she travels further, she begins to suspect she’s being followed by the Stasi. If she goes on, she worries that she’ll be taken into custody and be accused of spying; if she turns back, it means returning to Quill.

At last her grandmother’s photograph offers the solution. She tells people that she is going to find her family in the East. The Catholic church, and the manse, opposite where her grandmother once lived, are still standing. And the secrets of the past begin to be revealed.

Review: this story already captured me on the first chapter: it's January in 1945, Detta works in a town in East Germany and when she hears that the Russian army are really close to them, she takes the train early to try to get home with her mother. I found the scene in that train such a strong opening, you could clearly sense what everyone was thinking and it set the tone for story perfectly, especially as you could see the type of person Detta was. 

We then followed her in her own hometown and witnessed how her life became a lot more complicated after meeting two escaped British pilots. I was really curious to see how the story would go from there, and how, or even whether, they would manage to overcome all the impossible obstacles and escape. 

We also had another storyline set in 1989: a young photography student, Miranda, is in Berlin, ready to witness the fall of the wall and capture the perfect image. I found this story fascinating, reading how people reacted to the fall and how their life changed from one day to the other. But I especially enjoyed discovering how the two storylines intertwined. 

I have to say that at the beginning of the book, I was more intrigued about Etta but as we followed Miranda in Berlin, I started wanting to know more about her. There were some really tense moments that had me glued to its pages and there were also plenty of turns and twists that I was not expecting at all. 

The Escape is definitely a very thought provoking and engrossing story. It combines very well the telling of those dark war times with scenes of hope and love. I enjoyed learning more about both timelines and was fascinated about all the details that Clare Harvey included, from a forgotten necklace to an old camera, they all had their small roles in the story. 

Rating: 4 stars

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book. This is my honest opinion.

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