Monday 23 November 2020

The London Restoration

Finished November 17
The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan

This novel takes place in the fall of 1945, with some flashbacks to earlier times during World War II. The two central characters are a married couple who must find their way emotionally to each other. They got married during the war and have only had a few visits since then, and have never lived together. Diana Somerville (nee Foyle) is a student of architecture, church architecture in particular. She loves the churches of Christopher Wren, but is interested in all churches. She is therefore a fount of information on the churches. Brent Somerville, her husband is a professor of theology at King's College in London. His specialty is the gospels by the apostles. The two met in a churchyard, where he was eating lunch and sketching his surrounding and she was admiring the architecture and made the first move in their relationship by approaching him. 
During the war, knowing that she would be bored by many of the tasks available to young women, one of Diana's professors recommended her for secret work at Bletchley Park. They preferred single women, so even though she recently married Brent, she signed up under her maiden name. There she worked on breaking codes, using her knowledge of German and other skills from her education. Brent knew that she worked for the Foreign Office, but wasn't aware of her secret work. He worked as a medic and orderly, transporting wounded, and near the end of the war was wounded himself. He still has trauma related to his experiences and hasn't shared the extent of his PTSD with Diana. 
At the end of the war, Diana's superior Simon asked her to do some work for him relating to a new challenge that he sees for the country, the threat of communism and Russian tactics. She has gone to Austria on this mission for two weeks, missing Brent's homecoming. 
With Brent not aware of what she has been doing, nor of what she was away in Austria for, there is a barrier that has been raised between them. With Brent not sharing his own war experiences, there is also a barrier from his end. The young couple are very much in love, and very smart people, but they must feel their way into this new phase of their relationship. 
When you add that Diana's recent actions may put them in danger, this novel offers a lot of suspense. I hadn't read this Canadian author prior to this and enjoyed the book.

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