Australian Author · Contemporary/Literary · Historical Fiction · Mystery · Read-Reviewed-2021

The French Gift by Kirsty Manning. (2021).

The French Gift by Kirsty Manning. (2021).

**4 out of 5 stars**

Fresnes Prison, 1940: Margot, a former maid from the Riveria is in prison with writer/French Resistance fighter Josephine. They are transferred to a work camp in Germany where the secrets they share will bind them forever. Present-day Paris: Evie lives above her botanical bookshop with her teenage son Hugo. When the grieving Evie receives an unexpected letter, she jumps at the opportunity to spend a summer on the Côte d’Azur. The past envelops them and Evie attempts to unravel the official story of a famous novelist, find a missing manuscript and if she succeeds then a murder from the past may be solved.

I have been really excited to read this after loving the author’s previous novel (The Lost Jewels). I can happily confirm that this one is also a great read. Combining contemporary and historical fiction timelines, both make for emotional and gripping reading. Evie is a widow with a teenage son, both still grieving the loss of husband/father. By the end there is hope on the horizon for the two and they are able to see a future with happiness which was lovely. Margot and Josephine’s stories are powerful and fascinating. It is clear to the reader that Margot is innocent but she cannot prove it which is incredibly frustrating. The two suffer greatly in the prison they are in and the work they are forced to do is horrible, as is their living conditions – it was confronting to read.
Overall: this is a well-written novel that I’d happily recommend to those that enjoy dual timelines with a mystery to solve.

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