Hey everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Photographer of the Lost and I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt alongside my review! Thank you to Anne Cater/Random Things Tours and the publisher Simon and Schuster for sending me an ARC 😀
1921. Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He is considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she beings to search.
Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for evidence of his brother.
And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to a startling truth.
An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.
I’m going to keep my thoughts on this one brief because I want you to see for yourselves how gorgeous the writing is!
I was immediately hooked by the prologue of this one (which you can read below, you lucky devils). The writing flows absolutely beautifully and I was completely swept away in the story. The setting was conjured so effortlessly; I could picture every desolate French field and every detail in Edie’s Lancashire home.
The author made me feel for every single character in this book, even those we only meet in passing. I totally felt like I was on this journey with them. And wow, was it an emotional one. This book will seriously make you feel things.
The book moves seamlessly between past and present, and between Harry and Edie’s perspectives. I loved the chapters detailing the brothers’ time at war; these chapters felt so raw and visceral, and I couldn’t get enough! I definitely recommend this one for fans of historical fiction!
I know I haven’t said a lot in this review but I really think one of the best ways for you to get a feel for this book is to let you read a sample of the it for yourselves. So what are you waiting for?!
Read on for an extract of this gorgeous novel!
Lancashire, May 1921
Edie doesn’t hear the postman. She only notices the envelope, there on the linoleum, as she passes through from the kitchen to the sitting room. She bends to pick it up, sure it is a thing of no great consequence, just another bill that will have to wait, until she sees the postage stamp. It is the same stamp that used to be on their letters from France.
She turns the Manila envelope in her hands. The address is typed, so that it has a vague look of being official. She has written a lot of letters to France and Belgium over the past four years and, in return, receives envelopes full of apologies and repetitions. Her mind flicks through the names of agencies and bureaus, charities and associations, official offices and cemeteries.
At first it is merely a white sheet of paper inside the envelope, with nothing written or printed upon it, but when she turns it over, she sees it is a photograph. For a moment she doesn’t know the face. For that one moment it is the face of a stranger with no place or purpose being here, in her hallway, in her hand. It is an item of misdirected post, a mistake, a mystery – but only for a moment.
Edie leans against the wall and slides down the tiles. She hugs her arms around her knees. There’s a flutter in her chest like a caged bird beating its wings against the bars. The photograph has fallen from her hands and is there, at an angle to the chequerboard pattern of the floor, an arm’s stretch away. She rocks her head back against the wall and shuts her eyes.
Edie tells herself that she needs to look at it again. She must look. She ought to look, to bring it up close to her eyes, and to be certain, because while those are surely his eyes in the photograph, everything else makes no sense. How can it be? Certainly it is only a resemblance. It can’t possibly be him, after so long. Can it? But she doesn’t need to see the photograph a second time to know the truth. It is undoubtedly Francis.
She bites at her knee and makes herself look up. She can see her own footprints on the floor, the habitual patterns that she makes around this house. The linoleum needs mopping again. She should find time to paint the scuffed skirting boards and to beat the doormat. An oak leaf has blown under the hall table, and there next to it is that library card she’s been searching for. She notices all of these things, so that she doesn’t have to look at his face.
‘How?’ She asks the question out loud.
The envelope has crumpled in her hand, but she needs to check inside it. There must be more than that picture. There must be an explanation. A meaning. But there is nothing else there. No letter. Not a sentence. Not one word. She turns the envelope over and sees her address has been typed on a machine with worn keys. The curve of the u is broken, the dot on the i is missing, but the inky perforation of the full stop is emphatic. She can’t read the smudged postmark. There are hyphens in the chain of letters, she makes out, and it is perhaps a Saint- Something- or- Other, but the blur is a divine mystery. Her hands leave damp fingerprints on the brown paper. She has grown to accept that there must be a full stop after Francis’ name, but could she have got that wrong? Could there really be a chance? It is strange to see her own fingers tremble that way.
She rocks onto her side and feels the cold of the floor against her cheek. The photograph is there, inches from her hand. She hears footsteps going along the pavement outside, the buddleia tapping against the sitting- room window in the breeze, the beat of a waltz on Mrs Wilson’s wireless next door, but mostly there is the noise of her own breathing. She shouldn’t be here, lying on the hall floor on a Tuesday morning, with her face pressed down against lino that needs mopping, but how hard it is to make herself move. Why is it so difficult to stretch her hand out towards the photograph? To believe that it really is him?
The sun is slanting through the fanlight now, and the harlequin colours of the glass are elongating across the tiles, jewelling his face in red and green and gold. The face of her husband, who has been missing for the past four years.
I hope you enjoyed that! Make sure you check out these other stops on the tour to find out more, see the official cover reveal and be in with the chance of winning a finished copy!
The Photographer of the Lost will be released on October 31st 2019! x