Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: Tides of Honour by Genevieve Graham

Tides of Honour by Genevieve Graham
Series: Standalone
Published: April 21st, 2015 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
432 pages (ARC)
Genre: Canadian historic fiction
Acquired this book: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
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A novel of love, loss, and honour amidst the horrors of war and its aftermath.

It’s 1916, and the last thing Nova Scotian soldier Danny Baker expects to find in war-torn France is the love of his life. Audrey Poulin is alone in the world, and struggling to survive the war in the French countryside. When Audrey and Danny meet and fall in love, it seems like the best version of fate.

But love is only the beginning, as Danny loses a leg in the Battle of the Somme, and returns home to Halifax with Audrey, only to discover that he’s unable to leave the war behind. Danny and Audrey struggle with their new life together, and must face not only their own internal demons, but a catastrophe that will soon rip apart everything they think they know about themselves and each other.


It’s no secret I love historic fiction. Books dealing with war aren’t my favourite, but the fact that Genevieve Graham is Canadian and this book has a Canadian setting (which is unfortunately rare) intrigued me. Tides of Honour was emotional, powerful, and heartbreaking. It was an epic love story, but it was also so much more than that.   

When Danny returns to Nova Scotia after being injured during WWI, he’s haunted by the war and missing part of one leg. His emotional and psychological scars, like many soldiers, are as painful as his physical ones. Life is the same, and yet completely different than when he left home two years ago. His brothers are growing up, his family treats him differently, and there are so many things he could once do that are no longer possible because of his injury. I liked Danny a lot - he was complex and had a lot of depth. His struggles, both physically and mentally, were very real. I kept tearing up at his descriptions in the first few chapters, and I found it easy to connect with him.

With so many changes and so much pain in his life, the thought of Audrey coming from France to Canada to be his wife kept Danny going. I really liked these two together. They had an instant connection, one that remained through the time and distance that separated them. They were one of those couples that seemed meant to be, and I rooted for them throughout the course of the book. The struggles they experienced, both together and separately, taught them a lot and made them grow. Life threw a lot of obstacles in their way, things that many people wouldn’t be able to overcome, but they were strong and persistent, and they fought through everything that came their way.

Tides of Honour wasn’t always easy to read in terms of content. Parts of the book got quite dark, and a lot of the scenes after the Halifax Explosion were pretty gruesome and disturbing, plus just utterly heartbreaking. And yet the story was so compelling and the setting so vivid, I had trouble putting this book down. Normally a book that’s 400+ pages would tell me close to a week (or more) to read, but I managed to read Tides of Honour in three evenings. I don’t remember learning about the Halifax Explosion in school, so I found it interesting (and completely horrifying and heart-wrenching), and it was obvious Ms Graham had done a lot of research, not only with that, but also with the aspects of the war we saw through Danny’s memories, flashbacks, etc.

Clearly I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So why only four stars? Parts of it (especially the parts from Audrey’s perspective) kind of dragged. It got repetitive at times, going over the same information over and over (like how Audrey had come from living with her mother in England to living with her cold, unfeeling grandmere in France). And while I thought the sentiment of the ending was nice and I was mostly satisfied, it felt a bit rushed. There were also parts that seemed unrealistic, with one thing in particular that really bothered me and seemed completely unnecessary and left a bad taste in my mouth. There were also times when the timeline seemed a bit off, like it felt like quite a bit of time had passed, but it would only be a day or a week or something. It felt a bit discombobulated.

Tides of Honour is an intense and compelling read about perseverance, hope, faith, love, and family, set against a Canadian backdrop that comes alive on the page. I felt a wide range of emotions while reading this story about timeless love and survival. I won a copy of Ms Graham’s Under the Same Sky from a Canadian reading challenge last year, and after reading Tides of Honour, I’ll be bumping it up on my reading list, and I’ll be eager to see what she writes next.

 
Genevieve Graham and Susanna Kearsley are going on tour together from May 9th to 13th. If you'd like to meet these two fantastic authors, check out the Timeless Tour site for more information.
 
    
Have you read Tides of Honour? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you enjoy books with wartime settings? Have you read any of Genevieve Graham's other books? Let's talk here or on Twitter!

1 comment:

  1. Sorry done parts dragged but still, 400 pages in three days is great! I like historical fiction well enough. Mostly it depends on what part of history we're talking about. ; )

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