At the dawn of the First World War, the French provincial village of Briecourt is isolated from the battles, but the century-old feud between the Toussaints and the de Colvilles still rages in the streets. When the German army sweeps in to occupy the town, families on both sides of the feud must work together to protect stragglers caught behind enemy lines.This story had the potential to be fabulous. The setting of the book--WWI (which is a time period I'd like to read more about in fiction), a small village in France, the hiding of people during war and moving them in and out--oh the possibilities! But where this story of Julitte and Charles takes us--I'm still trying to figure it out.
Julitte Toussaint may have been adopted from a faraway island, but she feels the scorn of the de Colvilles as much as anyone born a Toussaint. So when she falls in love with one of the stragglers—a wealthy and handsome Belgian entrepreneur—she knows she’s playing with fire. Charles Lassone hides in the cellar of the Briecourt church, safe from the Germans for the moment. But if he’s discovered, it will bring danger to the entire village and could cost Charles his life.
Before we start chapter one, we have a blurb about the village and feud between the Toussaints and the de Colvilles. So I assumed that this would have a big play in the story. Then we meet Julitte and learn that she's the outcast of the town. And we don't know why. And it drags on. And on. Finally, I start getting a little annoyed at the fact that I don't know what the issue is with Julitte. We meet Charles and he ends up in the middle of the forest as the Germans start sweeping through the area. It seemed that these two story lines dragged on and on. It took me awhile to get through the first part of the novel because of this. It didn't draw me in.
From there we seem to hop from one segment of the story to the next. For me, there was no flow of the novel. This is the biggest issue with this novel. The plot is too big for its 368 pages. We had the town feud, the issue with Julitte, Julitte's visions from God and how they were there and then were taken away (and why they were taken away must have went over my head because I didn't understand), Charles in hiding with others, Charles and Juliette's developing relationship, Charles getting out, Julitte's friend Ori's fraternization with a German officer, Charles coming back to Briecourt, and the German occupation of the town. Perhaps there are a few more, but I lost track.
There must be something in this novel that some people saw and enjoyed. It was the winner of the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest.
I'm confident that Ms. Lang could have written a superb novel, and my beef is more with Christian publishing than anything else. I enjoy reading Christian historical romance novels. For me, they're a great break. If you see me reading a few in a row then you'll know that life is stressful and I want to read something that has a happy ending without using too much brain power. But all too often, these novels are so formalistic, in the same way as Harlequin novels. I really wish the publishers take a chance on something more. I was happy to see author's such as Julie Lessman enter the Christian market with her "edgy inspirational romance" series. I hope the publishers keep reaching and expanding their markets.
This is the first novel in the The Great War series. The second is titled, Whisper on the Wind is about Charles's sister, Isa (who was only mentioned in Look to the East). The third, Springtime of the Spirit is about the "good" German officer that tried to befriend Julitte. I'd be more interested in the third novel as, again, it is a great concept.
I don't like giving bad reviews, but I just did not enjoy this novel and was happy when I finished. If you're a fan of Christian historical romance and don't mind the constant formula, I'd say go ahead and read! The idea behind the story is great, but in my opinion, Ms. Lang wasn't able to execute.
Title: Look to the East
Author: Maureen Lang
Publication Year: 2009
Recommend? Not really.