Jessica and Vonda thought a trip to Paris to visit their best friend Patrick was a fantastic idea until . . . it wasn’t.
I received this book from NetGalley several months ago and had just started to read it when the Las Vegas attack occurred. For that reason, and the inherently disturbing imagery (mostly from the place of my imagination and PTSD), I did not finish reading it, nor did I review it. However, early last week I received a paperback copy from The Fiction Guild. I decided to give it a second chance.
I am at a loss to describe this book. The plot is primarily set overseas after the 2015 terrorist attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, recounting the main character’s life in the aftermath of this horrific event. Another setting is also in France. However, it deals with the persecution of the Huguenots centuries ago. The plot strands run in a dual timeline, but the emphasis is on present times.
Parts of The Space Between Words defy description, and some emotions can only be experienced through the gut-wrenching reading of the events. Other aspects of the book challenge description in the believability of the character’s story. I didn’t have a problem with one detail of Jessica’s dealing with Patrick and her PTSD, though I can see how many would (I don’t want to give any spoilers). I did have a hard time accepting the ease with which Mona, the innkeeper, welcomed Jessica. As a mother, I found it a little unlikely that another mother would not feel a threat to her child by someone in the throes of a mental and emotional breakdown. Nor do I believe that, as a business person, Mona would have let Jessica stay there for free for such a long time.
Overall, the story is well written, the characters well developed and the narrative believable. I ran a gamut of emotions, from a heightened sense of fear to laughter and relief. Be prepared for a roller-coaster ride if you read it, as you learn more about Jessica and, also, the persecution of the Huguenots in the late 1600’s.
I received this book from NetGalley and Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
“There were seconds, when I woke, when the world felt unshrouded. Then memory returned.”
When Jessica regains consciousness in a French hospital on the day after the Paris attacks, all she can think of is fleeing the site of the horror she survived. But Patrick, the steadfast friend who hasn’t left her side, urges her to reconsider her decision. Worn down by his insistence, she reluctantly agrees to follow through with the trip they’d planned before the tragedy.
“The pages found you,” Patrick whispered.
“Now you need to figure out what they’re trying to say.”
During a stop at a country flea market, Jessica finds a faded document concealed in an antique. As new friends help her to translate the archaic French, they uncover the story of Adeline Baillard, a young woman who lived centuries before—her faith condemned, her life endangered, her community decimated by the Huguenot persecution.
“I write for our descendants, for those who will not understand the cost of our survival.”
Determined to learn the Baillard family’s fate, Jessica retraces their flight from France to England, spurred on by a need she doesn’t understand.
Could this stranger who lived three hundred years before hold the key to Jessica’s survival?