From the desk of Katie Patchell:
Three Women. Three Decades. Two Wars.
In All the Ways We Said Goodbye, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen White take readers across two continents and through two World Wars to uncover spies and secrets. Each of the three heroines, Aurelie, Daisy, and Babs, fight to bring freedom of heart and country in this tale that spans fifty years. The drumbeat of war reaches to stately mansions and across war-ravaged fields, calling each of the unique heroines to right the wrong in their corners of the world. Despite their seemingly unconnected lives, the same glittering Ritz holds the answers to what they search for: Courage, love, and a final goodbye. So reader: welcome to Paris — welcome to the Ritz — welcome to All the Ways We Said Goodbye.
If there was one word to describe this novel, it would be “secrets.” Aurelie, Daisy, and Babs have many secrets that they hide from even those closest to them, and it’s the job of the reader to sniff them out. I cannot give a detailed description of the plot because of the twists and revelations that happen to start in the very first pages. What I can do without spoilers is to give a brief introduction to each of the heroines:
- Aurelie – 1914. Aurelie lives in Paris and is the daughter of a French aristocrat and an American heiress. Her ancestors fought with Joan of Arc, and this hero inspires Aurelie to go off on her own daring quest to save lives as a second “Maid of Orleans.” Rebelling against the German soldiers comes naturally, as they’re the invaders of her country and home. But when she meets an old flame now dressed in the garb of a German officer, the clear lines between “Who is my enemy?” and “Who is my friend?” vanish.
- Daisy – 1942. Another resident of Paris, Daisy struggles against life under Nazi occupation. Her grandmother, a wealthy American expatriate, encourages Daisy to join her spy ring. For Daisy, the cost is great–if caught, her two young children and beloved grandmother are put in terrible danger. With the aid of a mysterious English spy and his worn copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Daisy embarks on a path she never would have planned in order to protect her family and people.
- Babs – 1964. Babs was always content in her role as wife, mother, and leader in her area of Devonshire, England. When her childhood sweetheart-turned-husband dies after World War II, she sinks under the loneliness of an empty home and heart. But when Babs finds out that her husband may have lied about everything — even his love for her — she starts out on a transformative journey to Paris that takes her through old letters and long-buried stories at the Hotel Ritz.
Each of the three very different stories in All the Ways We Said Goodbye was woven together masterfully. When I received this novel I saw that it was written by three authors, but their styles were blended so seamlessly that I forgot it wasn’t written by a single author…and continued believing so through my review’s entire first draft! Every detail that’s seemingly small — from a passing reference to a person’s last name to something even more minor, like the smell of a pipe — can be the key to finding out how each woman’s story connects to the others. So stay sharp! I’ve read books before that switch narrators and dates, but never have I read a novel quite like this. Everything was charged with the potential to impact another heroine’s storyline, which amplified “the feels” I had for the characters. It’s one thing to be moved when the heroine makes a difficult choice — it’s another thing entirely to realize that this new decision was the reason a future character acted a certain way earlier in the book. I wasn’t before, but now I’m a convert to this kind of time-travel novel, as it’s a reflection of reality: Every cause has an effect, even if it’s not directly an effect on one’s own life. It’s just in a condensed form here, where we’re fortunate enough as readers to actually see this cause and effect.
As for what I didn’t like, the list is short but did impact my experience of All the Ways We Said Goodbye. Because the time span is so broad and there are three heroines to share the novel, there wasn’t much character development or depth. The most depth was perhaps in Aurelie’s story, which ended up being my favorite of the three. I would say the least depth was in Babs’ story; I just never felt connected or interested in this character, despite her intriguing premise. The ending is also rushed, which was a disappointment since the authors created such fascinating premises. For some of the tantalizing secrets, I was still left with questions like “Why make this choice?” or “What happened next?” This was frustrating since it seemed less like a conscious choice to benefit the character, and more like a problem of deadlines or page limits.
Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives. With its plethora of historical secrets and three heroines filled to the brim with heart and courage, I recommend All the Ways We Said Goodbye to start off your 2020 reading season.
4 out of 5 Stars
All the Ways We Said Goodbye, by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen White
William Morrow (January 14, 2020)
Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook (448) pages
Cover image courtesy of William Morrow © 2020; text Katie Patchell © 2020, Austenprose.com