Note – this review has spoilers, I couldn’t write it without them, sorry.
The lovely people of New Books Magazine (http://www.newbooksmag.com/) had sent me the latest Marcia Preston ‘West of the Wall’ to read and review. I say this like I have a clue who Marcia Preston is and sadly I didn’t, it turns out that she is the writer of several books in fact so I am clearly not the fountain of all knowledge. This, her latest, is set in the time of The Berlin Wall and is all about the struggles of people on either side of it. I haven’t read anything around the Berlin Wall, and it has made me research that in depth, so full marks for an original subject. I was also really looking forward to reading a new author; you are hoping you find a new voice that you want to have the whole collection of.
The story follows Trudy; her husband has been helping people flee from East to West Berlin and has had to make the switch as his ‘secret’ work has meant he has endangered himself and his family. So he flees only once he cannot be caught Trudy herself falls under scrutiny and rumour and she too must escape. In doing so she leaves behind her mother in law and most heartbreakingly for her, her son. How can she get him to her side of the wall safely when she is destitute and has no contacts?
Oh throwing herself in front of the President’s car when he visits Berlin, being flown by a diplomat to America where he buys her a fabulous new wardrobe, makes her into some sort of celebrity before hitting her and blackmailing her, she flees and becomes Jackie Kennedy’s best friend. She comes back to Germany and you can guess the rest, or can you?
Until the American part of the book started I must admit that despite my first reservations of Marcia Preston’s novel she had hooked me in, I was really enjoying the novel until then. Also the final part back in Germany is very good too and she almost redeemed herself, but sadly not quite. Oh I haven’t mentioned my original reservations have I? From the cover and blurb I thought this was going to be a big granny romance, you know Mills & Boon but much, much longer and actually not as good. I was half write as it ended up like Pretty Woman with guns, regimes and some vicious American Politician. For some this will be the perfect read, sadly for me it was two thirds of a good novel, not a great one.