The Darkest Hour by Barbara Erskine

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RATING:4.5/5

BLURB: “In the summer of 1940, most eyes are focused on the skies above. The battle for Britain has just begun. But talented artist Evie Lucas has eyes for no-one but a dashing young pilot called Tony, and spends her days sketching endless portraits of him. She wants his parents to have something to remember their only child by in case in all goes wrong in the war…

Seventy years later, recently widowed art historian Lucy is trying to put the pieces of her life back together. But when she accidentally ends up stirring up a hornet’s nest of history which has been deliberately obliterated, Lucy finds herself in danger from people past and present who have no intention of letting an untold truth ever surface…”

REVIEW: This book was recommend to me with rave reviews by a very close friend, and upon beginning it I could instantly understand why she had been so obsessed by the story. The book hooks the reader in from the very last page and, with numerous and shocking twists and turns, does not let them go until the very last page has been read and the book closed. The book opens with the mysterious death of Lucy’s husband, Laurence, in a car crash that sees her life completely destroyed, and from this point onwards continues to move between the lives of Lucy, a historian and researcher, and Evelyn Lucas, a young war artist who is the subject of Lucy’s new biography. Evelyn is easily likeable – hardworking, witty and beautiful, she is kept under close guard by her agent and sometimes lover, the bullying and brutal Eddie Marston, whose villainy only continues to develop throughout the book. Evie’s brother Ralph and his friend, her lover Tony Anderson, are characters that we grow to care for hugely, and fear for strongly in the stories Erskine tells of the Battle of Britain. The more we learn about Evie, however, the more her life begins to influence events in the modern day. Lucy soon finds herself haunted not only by Evie’s brother Ralph, shot down while in action, but also a much more malicious ghost intent on keeping the Lucas family secrets safely in the closet. It is difficult to say much more without revealing too much of the story’s plot, but on a final note I would say that Erskine’s writing is hugely realistic, gripping and engaging, and flits between past and present with complete ease. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more of her works!

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