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Customer Review

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Complex Tale of Moral Dilemma, 4 July 2012
This review is from: The Scent of Lemon Leaves (Paperback)
Already a bestseller in Spain and Italy, Clara Sanchez's 'The Scent of Lemon Leaves' with its beautiful cover and its romantic sounding title, is an interestingly deceptive novel in that in between its attractive covers lies a story that is a dark and complex one.

Told in a dual narrative from the perspective of Julian and Sandra, the novel begins when Julian, an elderly gentleman living in Argentina, receives a request from Salvador Castro, a very old friend and former fellow inmate at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp - one of the largest and severest category of labour camps in operation during the Second World War. Salvador, who is not well and now living in an old persons' home in Spain, has tracked down two former Nazis, Frederik and Karin Christensen, who are living in the Norwegian community on the Costa Blanca, and Salvador needs Julian to help him bring the pair to justice. Julian, unwell himself, but keen to assist his old friend, finds himself travelling to Spain and whilst there he meets a young woman, Sandra.

Sandra, newly pregnant, unmarried and confused about whether she should marry her child's father, has come to the Costa Blanca to stay in her sister's beach home while she decides what she really wants to do. She has befriended Frederik and Karin Christensen after they came to her assistance when she was unwell and she has started to look upon them as the grandparents she never had. That is until she becomes acquainted with Julian and he tells her that the couple she thinks of as kind and caring individuals, are actually partly responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. Sandra now finds herself in a very difficult position; does she believe Julian's story? If she does believe him, can she possibly understand the intensity of his antipathy towards Frederik and Karin and, if she does decide to help Julian, how should she now react to the Christensens without causing suspicion?

This is a gripping and complex tale of moral dilemma and a story which examines loyalty, deception, betrayal and, very importantly, trust. The first-person narrated dual perspective works well by pulling the reader into the stories of both Julian and Sandra, enabling us to see things from the viewpoint of an elderly man still suffering traumas from the past, and a young woman looking to the future and trying to build a new life for herself and her unborn child. The author states in an Endnote that the Nazis in her novel are based on real people who, after the Second World War, managed to evade capture, found refuge under the warm skies of Spain and managed to live to a ripe old age, and this fact serves to make this an even more emotive and engrossing story.

4.5 Stars.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jul 2012 11:31:47 BDT
What a lovely review, I shall order this immediately. My sister has a holiday home on the Costa Blanca that I have visited so that area will come alive for me immediately as I read.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jul 2012 12:25:05 BDT
Susie B says:
Hi Kate, nice to hear from you again. Thank you for your kind comment about my review - I really hope you enjoy the book. Best wishes, SusieB.

Posted on 24 Jul 2012 19:17:35 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Jul 2012 19:19:27 BDT
A to Z says:
nice review - just about to go hols in that area - sort of tempted now but so many little time - you have me intrigued though

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jul 2012 20:07:53 BDT
Susie B says:
Hi Angel. Yes, you're absolutely right - so many books etc... If you saw my `to be read mountain' you would be amazed! If you do decide to add this book to your pile, then I very much hope you find it worth the read. Best wishes SusieB.
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