Survivor by Lesley Pearse

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Survivor by Lesley Pearse

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Buy Survivor by Lesley Pearse at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Tanja Jennings
Reviewed by Tanja Jennings
Summary: Real, raw and evocative adventurous wartime saga if a little unbelievable in some respects.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 536 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Penguin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780241961520

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Lesley Pearse is an author who demands compulsive reading as her strong female protagonists suffer and survive by overcoming overwhelming odds. She has a talent for drawing you into her novels as she crafts her characters’ amazing, at times horrific, and continually perilous journeys. There is a strong sense of place about her books which are meticulously researched and rich with period detail and propel readers on a dizzying odyssey through history. She is frank about the problems and pain that ill-judged sexual acts can cause but balances this with the joy and pure passion that is inherent in true love. Her characters are not perfect stereotypes. They are often flawed and must find an inner strength to grow and develop as loyal and caring human beings.

Following hot on the heels of Belle and The Promise, Survivor is set during World War Two. Spoilt and cosseted Mariette (translated as little rebel), the reckless and headstrong daughter of the indefatigable Belle, who has emerged beaten but unbowed from her traumatic experiences, and the heroic Etienne who has found his inner goodness, has grown up with her brothers in a rural New Zealand town which she finds too provincial for her tastes. When circumstances conspire to put her on a ship bound for England she gets swept away by a glittering world. Mari is a beauty and many men seek her favours until tragedy shatters her new life. Suddenly caught up in the terrifying world of Blitz ravaged London she is forced to re-evaluate who she is and realise what really matters. She battles with matters of the heart and discovers her inner courageousness as she makes choices which take her life in a different direction and lead her into life-threatening danger.

The action moves from picturesque Russell in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand to London and later Devon, Southampton and France. Pearse clearly loves these locations as her writing makes the reader feel they are there amidst the scenery and the emotions of the characters. Although Survivor can be read as a stand-alone, it is better to start with Belle’s story. Well rounded characters whom readers can place an emotional investment in, reappear in Survivor to great impact. It is also a transition from World War One to World Two and a reflection of the changes in society from the early twentieth century (1910) to the 1940s. Belle grows up in poverty and fear while Mari comes of age in complacent comfort. Will this affect their characters or can love and goodness triumph in the end? Read the trilogy to uncover the secrets of these women’s lives and how they cope in times of adversity. Having read every single one of Lesley Pearse's novels, this didn't have the WOW factor for me as I found I had to suspend my disbelief in some places because I felt the plot was at times slightly too far-fetched and I couldn't connect with Mari at first. According to Pearse this is deliberate. She does not want you to initially warm to Mariette because she wants to portray a difficult, selfish, rebellious teenager so that Mari's character can develop. In this she succeeds but for me it made Mariette's sudden change of heart and selflessness less believable somehow. It was too sudden. For this reason, I am giving the book four stars.

If Survivor appeals why not pre-empt it with an emotional, harrowing rollercoaster read hurtling from the streets of the slum ridden corrupt Seven Dials to Paris and New Orleans where fresh horrors await an innocent girl. Experience Belle then follow her to mud logged rat plagued trenches in the Promise. If your passion is period driven drama full of love, loss, suffering and adventure you could also lose yourself in Gypsy. For something totally different but still in the realms of historical fiction and about resourceful women try The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric set during the potato famine in Ireland or travel to 1942 Lubeck in After the Bombing by Clare Morrall.

Lesley Pearse's Novels in Chronological Order

Buy Survivor by Lesley Pearse at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Survivor by Lesley Pearse at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Survivor by Lesley Pearse at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Survivor by Lesley Pearse at Amazon.com.

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