"1914. Vivian, a young, impassioned debutante is hurried into a pedestrian marriage to cover a scandal. War breaks out on her wedding day - domestically and across Europe. Quick to escape the disappointment of matrimony, her traditionalist husband immediately enlists and Vivian has no alternative than to take up the management and running of his estate - after all, everyone is required to do their bit. Even pretty, inadequately-educated young wives.
Howard, a brilliant young playwright rushes to the front to see for himself the best and the worst of humanity; he cannot imagine what the horror might be. In March 1916, when conscription becomes law, it is no longer enough for him to report on the War, it's a legal requirement that he joins the ranks. Howard refuses, becoming one of the most notorious conscientious objectors of the time. Disarmingly handsome, famous, articulate and informed, he's a threat to the government. Narrowly escaping a death sentence by agreeing to take essential work on Vivian's farm, it's only then Howard understands what is worth fighting for."
I feel a little bit like I've grown up with Adele Parks, from reading her first novel when I was expecting my first baby, right the way through til now - and her writing really reflects how she has grown from her first novel to this novel.
A different style of story from your usual chick-lit, Adele has created characters that you can relate to - whether you want to or not. I'll confess that I was not overly fond of Vivien in the beginning, but as she grows through the story, she changes with the things life throws at her, and by the end I really did like her. There are, of course, characters that you really don't like, and there were some that I still didn't like at the end, but there are other, properly delicious hero-types, that are completely swoon-worthy that I loved from start to finish. I loved the historical side to it, and there are little details dotted through out that show the reader that Adele has reeeeeeeeally done her research. Also, if you loved Spare Brides, Adele's previous historical novel, you should know that a certain character pops her head in here every now and again ;).
I was lucky enough to be able to attend the launch party for If You Go Away which was fantastic - Adele gave a talk on how she researched the novel, how the story grew, her writing regime and how her ideas come to her. It was a beautiful evening, in a fantastic location, to celebrate the work of probably one of the most lovely, genuine writers around.
This is just a lovely, lovely read, complete with a 100% bona fide swoon-worthy hero - definitely one you won't want to miss.
If You Go Away is out now and you can get it (and Spare Brides) over here:
**Thank you to Adele, and lovely Georgina Moore at Headline for both my proof and my invite!**