I've read three of Genevieve Graham's historical fiction titles now and every time I finish one I'm amazed at how well she brings the stories of our country's past to life. Her latest novel, Come from Away, revisits characters we fell in love with in Tides of Honour - Danny and Audrey - and introduces us to their daughter Grace. I was so happy to see how the Baker family was doing and so worried as well because this novel takes place during World War II - and we all know that wasn't an easy time to live through.
Here's the synopsis:
In the fall of 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window. As the harsh realities of war come closer to home, Grace buries herself in her work at the store.
Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamoured by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after a several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be, but someone else entirely—someone not to be trusted. When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she had thought. And if Grace is to have a chance at love, she must not only choose a side, but take a stand.
Come from Away is a mesmerizing story of love, shifting allegiances, and second chances, set against the tumultuous years of the Second World War.
First things first. For those who aren't aware, "come from away" is a term used by those in the Maritimes to refer to someone who has moved to the area from elsewhere. The term actually can be used to refer to Graham herself as she moved to Nova Scotia from Alberta.
What I love about Graham's writing is that you can tell she is so passionate about telling Canada's stories. She brings the past to life in such a way that makes the reader interested and submersed in the time period. Come from Away is a World War II novel but it still feels fresh. An even more incredible feat when you consider how many novels are set in that time period. Oftentimes war stories (whether books or movies) don't give the perspective of what it was like on the home front, especially in Canada. Our country was geographically so far removed from the actual war. Or was it? In this novel Graham focuses on the U-Boats and how close they really got to our coast line.
I loved Grace. I admired her for so many things, especially wanting to help during the war. Graham wrote her so well that I completely understood how helpless she felt "just" running a shop in town when her brothers, and so many other young men, were off fighting in Europe. She was smart and kind and someone I would have loved to know.
Grace and Rudi's relationship was an uphill battle from the beginning. Rudi wasn't being forthcoming about who he really was and then, when all was revealed, Grace and her family had to decide what they should do. I know I'm being a bit vague but when the synopsis doesn't give anything away, I don't want to either. Even though the pair had their struggles, you could tell they had that certain special something that all strong relationships have. Their romance, while not perfect, was so sweet and wonderful to read.
Come from Away is a must-read for pretty much everyone. I think if you're Canadian, especially, you should definitely read this book. It doesn't matter if you're usually a historical fiction reader or not. Genevieve Graham has written such a wonderful story that deserves to be loved by everyone. It's smart, it's sweet, it's heart-wrenching. It's just so good. You don't have to read Tides of Honour first but I suggest you do because you'll love the characters even more and you'll get to read more of Graham's work. It's a win-win.
*An ARC was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*