In 1942 Madeleine was six years old and, with her parents and young brother, she escaped over the Pyrenees from Occupied France. Having got his family to safety, Luis returned to fight in the Resistance while they went to live with Madeleine's grandparents in England. Fifteen years later Madeleine's mother has just died and she decides to go back to French Catalonia to find out what happened to her father.
I was really impressed with this story. Madeleine's dreary life in the 1950s with strict grandparents is beautifully portrayed and very effectively contrasted with the vividness of life in a Mediterranean village. The plot is engrossing - secrets from the war are uncovered, stories of betrayal and love come to light. As Madeleine finds out about her past we see her developing from an insecure girl into a more self confident and fulfilled person.
It is a very satisfying story in many ways - characters you believe in and care about, wonderful descriptions of French Catalonia and a strong plot. It is hard to belive it is a first novel as the writing is so good. Highly recommended both as a personal read and for groups.