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The Museum of Broken Promises Hardcover – 5 Sept. 2019
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Gripping... This dark story, beautifully written, is shot through with the white heat of first love., Daily Mail
I ADORE cold-war novels and I live for love stories - The Museum of Broken Promises is a perfect combination of both. It's a gem of a book... beautiful, elegant., Marian Keyes, author of The Break
Intricately plotted and beautifully written, the characters and the setting stay with you and leave you yearning for Paris., Katie Fforde, author of A Vintage Wedding
I've long considered Elizabeth Buchan to be one of our greatest living novelists, and this brilliant novel confirms it. A masterly writer at the very top of her game., Peter James, author of the Roy Grace series
I adored The Museum of Broken Promises. It has affected me more than anything I've read in quite a while. It's an amazing, emotive, heartbreaking but also ultimately uplifting novel. I really loved it so much., Laura Barnett, author of Versions of Us
Uplifting and sad and passionate and poignant all at the same time. If you like your fiction to challenge you and sweep you along and break you just a little, this is for you., Tammy Cohen, author of When She Was Bad
Wonderful, poignant, mysterious, witty and steeped in the atmosphere of Paris at its most attractive., Amanda Craig, author of The Lie of the Land
Elizabeth Buchan's new novel has quite broken my heart. I finished it days ago yet it is still haunting me. it is a magical yet sometimes heartbreaking, intricately-plotted journey through some of the darker days of Europe's modern history. The characters are so alive that I found myself cheering and weeping for them. What a love story, and so elegantly written! I thoroughly recommend this novel., Carol Drinkwater, author of The Lost Girl
An elegant story that unfolds with a subtle and fascinating voice., Anstey Harris, author of The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton
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Despite having been very much alive and fairly cognisant of the world during the time period this novel is set, I found myself having little knowledge of the communist world. I was aware of East Berlin, I was aware of the cold war might of the USSR, but I had only the vaguest notion that Czechoslovakia was part of it all. It does feel strange now that Prague, the main setting for this book, is now such a popular city break location and yet has such a dark and tainted past - a past that will be all too real for a high proportion of it's current residents.
Despite the author's best efforts I never felt that I got to understand our main protagonist, Laure Carlyle. Somehow she remains fairly ephemeral on the page and this prevented me from really managing to stir up any concern for her or to hope that there would be some happiness in her future. I was intrigued by her host family and the way they interacted with each other and her - Petr and Eva have such a peculiar relationship and the nature of Eva's "illness" is never explained, leaving the reader with more questions than answers (undoubtedly this is deliberate).
I also found Laure's naivety hard to cope with. Yes, she is young. Yes, she is hurting after the loss of her father. Yes, she seems to have been sheltered in her upbringing and have no idea how the world can betray you. Fairly normal for a girl just out of her teenage years and stepping in to adulthood but what could have been seen as touching merely served to irritate me. The older, museum curator Laure is a slightly more intriguing character having been forged through her experiences but she still has an almost childlike wonder to her that I found grating.
This novel was not what I expected. Normally, this is something I tout as a good thing. However, in this case I feel slightly like a victim of a bait and switch. It started so well and I understand the need to explain Laure's backstory and how the museum came in to being. However, I just couldn't get invested in her Prague experiences or her Berlin experiences (which are mercifully brief) and as Prague is good 70% of the book that kind of spoilt it for me.
Beautifully written, full of nuance and emotion, but also conveying what it was like to live under the shadow of communism in the 1980s, this book has a love story at its heart and explores how promises can be made, broken and analysed.
This is a story I will be thinking about for a very long time. I read with The Pigeonhole and promptly bought a hardback copy. Fabulous.
The pace is slow and her writing isn't as fluent as some of her other books. The writing is in the third person but Buchan has a habit here of allowing her character to speak directly to us in the form of questions then she switches back to third person narrator. Doesn't quite work.
I can't warm to the central character Laure, not helped because it's unclear how her name is pronounced. Laura? Lore? Laureh? Lauree? We know she's been hurt and there is a past yet to discover - a continuation of the flashback in the first chapter, but how long till we get there?
Nik and May appear as stereotypes and I don't feel we know them as real people.
I can't quite understand the appeal of the museum which trades on human misery. Something macabre about it.
The inclusion of the kitten grated on me simply because it wasn't moving the story forward.
So far I am disappointed because my expectations were high. If I am more impressed when I've read the whole book (if I manage that) I will amend my review.