Book Review: Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs


Never having read Susan Wiggs’ books before, I only found this one when I was looking for recommendations. I went in with no expectations and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Even though it’s not a thriller, the writing and story is so beautiful and emotional that I finished it in a single sitting.

The book starts with Camille and her daughter Julie who are dealing with the loss of their husband/father Jace five years ago. The once carefree and wild Camille has shut herself away from the world and Julie is being bullied in school but like a typical teenager, cannot share her anger and frustration with her mother. They still have a good support system in Camille’s parents and her siblings and a quiet life in the community of Bethany Bay. When Camille’s father Henry receives a box of old artifacts belonging to his mother, three of them decide to travel to France – Henry finally wants to visit his family home again and Julie just wants to escape from her school and classmates. Once there, Camille enlists the help of Professor Finnemore aka Finn to piece together the true story of her father’s parents. At the same time, she is also struggling not to fall for Finn who is essentially in the same boat. The other timeline follows Lisette in WWII era France, struggling in a loveless marriage to a Nazi collaborator. She tries to live another life, using her passion in photography to help the resistance as a silent defiance of her husband. In this journey, a chance encounter leads to true love in spite of the dangers involved.

When these two timelines converge at the end, what we get is a beautiful tale of love, loss, courage and ultimately the longing to find the truth. The book ends on a happy note for everyone but it still teared me up because it was so beautiful and poignant till the end. I especially loved the tracks of Henry and Julie – Henry finding his true parentage and coming to terms with his reality is very heartwarming; Julie finding new friends and finally confidence in herself in a little coastal town of France is endearing and a testament to her resilience. This is a must read for anyone who likes beautiful writing, emotional stories and possibly a tear jerker.

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

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