It has been far too long since I’ve read a book by Carol Drinkwater. You can read my review of her lovely The Forgotten Summer here. Consequently, I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the launch celebrations for The Lost Girl which is just fabulous. I have my review for you and a very special extract from the book too.
The Lost Girl was published on 29th June 2017 by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin, and is available for purchase via the links here.
The Lost Girl
Her daughter disappeared four years ago. . .
Since her daughter went missing four years earlier, celebrated photographer Kurtiz Ross has been a woman alone. Her only companion her camera. Since Lizzie disappeared, she has blamed and isolated herself, given up hope. Until, out of the blue, an unexpected sighting of Lizzie is made in Paris.
Could this lead to the reconciliation she has dreamed of?
Within hours of Kurtiz arriving in Paris, the City of Light is plunged into a night of hell when a series of terrorist attacks bring the city to a standstill. Amid the fear and chaos, a hand reaches out. A sympathetic stranger in a café offers to help Kurtiz find her daughter.
A stranger’s guiding light
Neither knows what this harrowing night will deliver, but the other woman’s kindness – and her stories of her own love and loss in post-war Provence – shine light into the shadows, restoring hope, bringing the unexpected. Out of darkness and despair, new life rises. New beginnings unfold.
Dare she believe in a miracle?
Set during a time of bloodshed and chaos in one of the most beautiful cities on earth and along the warm fragrant shores of the Mediterranean, Kurtiz discovers that miracles really can happen . . .
An extract from The Lost Girl
Charlie, Paris, March 1947
Charles Gilliard was whistling as he strolled the Parisian avenue, heading in an easterly direction. Glancing to and fro, enjoying all that was going on around him on that fine spring morning, he was relishing the day that lay ahead of him to do with as he pleased. He was suffering no headache; he had risen early after sleeping soundly, which was to say relatively peacefully and without his recurrent nightmares. No reason, then, not to be in an optimistic frame of mind. The city was pulsing with life: the boulevards were busy; the chestnuts were coming into bud; a merry‑go‑round of automobiles was tooting and turning as though the engines themselves were in song. Although he was grateful for what had come out of the war – he had done well for himself during those years of silence, of wartime emptiness and repression – it lifted his spirits to witness the capital’s renaissance. Paris reawakening. Peace time. The jazz clubs, the gaiety, the night life. Dancing be‑bop at the Caveau de la Huchette over on the Left Bank; drinking with the Americans who had brought a light-heartedness and latitude to the liberated city. The pretty girls, the free and easy lifestyle. Life was becoming cool. An excellent description, thought Charlie, who had sweated it out for too long now.
He was marvelling, too, at the continuance of his own good fortune, even beyond those years of occupation. Surely, though, such luck could not continue for ever. His opportunities for making money were slowing down. The black-market possibilities for income had been drying up in his field since the end of the war. In any case, he had long ago grown tired of such a fly‑by‑night existence. And, more to the point, the money he had stashed away could not be eked out for more than another year or two. It was unwise of him to fritter it away on all-night boogying. He should invest in some fresh clothes, give some serious thought to his future, find gainful employment. The grey suit he was wearing was beginning to look shabby, threadbare about the cuffs. It would not serve him for much longer. Fortunately, he still had access to the apartment he had installed himself in and made his home. Its owner was a woman – that much he had gleaned – a Jewess, Madame Friedlander. Where she had fled to, he had failed to discover. There were no clues, or none that he had found left lying about in the high-ceilinged dusty rooms. Or, most importantly, any information about when she might return to reclaim her home and pick up the threads of her life. Of course, there was always the possibility that she was dead, killed in a raid as she fled the city, or from natural causes, or had been arrested and imprisoned in one of those atrocious camps everyone was reading and talking about. Judging by the photographs hanging on her walls, she was well into middle age. Might there be offspring, relatives with an interest in her estate? He must remain alert, and look to the future.
My Review of The Lost Girl
Searching for lost daughter Lizzie will bring Kurtiz much more than she could have imagined or, perhaps, have wanted.
When I saw the premise for The Lost Girl I had my doubts as I thought it might be too close to recent events and I was concerned it might be exploitative. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In The Lost Girl Carol Drinkwater sensitively uses the settings of the terrorist attack in Paris, the Second Word War and various other conflicts shown through Kurtiz’s photographic work, to illustrate with compassion and sensitivity the impact of global events on the ordinary person. This is a book with total heart.
The use of the senses to create place and atmosphere is sublime. The attention to detail is such that reading parts of The Lost Girl is more like looking at one of Kurtiz’s photographs than reading a book. I also found the creation of atmosphere so convincing that my heart was thumping at times and my stomach rumbling at others. I was genuinely transported to the scenes described.
The plot is so compelling because of the level of reality within it. Carol Drinkwater has crafted a spell-binding narrative and every word adds depth and understanding to the situations in which the characters find themselves so that The Lost Girl is writing of the very highest standard.
The characters are vibrant, realistic and convincing. At one point I found myself wanting to Google them to find out more and had to remind myself that these are fictional people. I didn’t always agree with their behaviour and actions, but I understood them completely. The Lost Girl is such a clever title because Kurtiz, Marguerite and Lizzie are all physically, emotionally or psychologically lost in their own way.
The sense of personal loss In The Lost Girl against a backdrop of national and international events is palpable so that there was a real intensity that I felt physically as I read. The Lost Girl is about loss, terrorism, love, war, identity, culture and ambition but most of all it is about humanity, about the lives of so many that hang in the balance on the phrase of ‘What if…’ and about a world that we all inhabit and that can change in an instant. I absolutely adored it.
About Carol Drinkwater
Carol Drinkwater is a multi-award-winning actress who is best known for her portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small. She is also the author of over twenty books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her quartet of memoirs set on her olive farm in the south of France have sold over a million copies worldwide and her solo journey round the Mediterranean in search of the Olive tree’s mythical secrets inspired a five-part documentary film series, The Olive Route.