Wednesday 26 June 2019

Cocoa Beach

Finished June 13
Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams, read by Eva Kaminsky and Alex Wyndham

This story moves back and forth in time between events during and just after World War I in France and England, and three years later in Florida.
Virginia Fortescue has left her father and sister in New York City to volunteer in France during the War. She has a few reasons for leaving, although she does worry about her younger sister. She has used the mechanical skills her father ensured that she had to become an ambulance driver and mechanic. During her duties, she meets an English doctor, Simon Fitzwilliam, a few years older than her, and is drawn to him. He is in a complicated personal situation, but works to gain her love and trust. Virginia hasn't told him all her secrets, but she does feel safe with him.
Three years later Virginia has come to Florida with her young daughter following notification from Simon's brother that Simon has died in a house fire. Virginia left Simon shortly after their marriage, under circumstances we gradually learn, and has never let him know about their daughter. His voice is given in letters that he writes to her. Again, Virginia has a secret no one knows. She has a letter from him dated after his reported death, and so believes that he is still alive. She searches for an answer to her questions about Simon and his motivations, relying on his siblings for information. But is she trusting the wrong people?
This is a story of secrets, of worry and of trust. In a time of Prohibition, Simon has become involved in illegal alcohol provision, much like the smuggling of his Cornish ancestors. Has this activity become his downfall?
There are several interesting characters here, from Simon and Virginia to the black woman who manages the estate and citrus orchards that Simon inherited. Simon's brother is a bit of an enigma. We know he resents Simon and has all his life, but does that mean that he would actually do Simon harm. The cliffhanger ending leads me to expect another book with some of the same characters.

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