Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
The Orient Express. Luxury. Mystery. Romance. For one group of passengers settling in to their seats and taking their first sips of champagne, the journey from London to Venice is more than the trip of a lifetime. A mysterious errand; a promise made to a dying friend; an unexpected proposal; a secret reaching back a lifetime...As the train sweeps on, revelations, confessions and assignations unfold against the most romantic and infamous setting in the world.
My overwhelming thought when I finished this book was that I need to go on the Orient Express. An overnight journey from London to Venice via Paris in all the luxury and decadence that this famous train journey continues to offer sounds wonderfully sumptuous and plush. If nothing else this book is a wonderful travel brochure for the journey with the surroundings, the history and food on offer. I really hope Veronica Henry gets a percentage of future holidays booked after people read this!
The story itself actually follows several characters on the same train journey – a modern family with two late teens rebellious children with big secrets, a strict father and nervous new step-mother, an art dealer who is heading to Venice to pick up a birthday present from her grandmother, but struggling to decide between an unsuitable romance and a new job offer, an aging photographer and his muse making their annual trip to Venice, but he has a surprise in store for this year and finally a young couple on a blind date but each with a broken heart. While they are all on the same train, their stories don’t overlap much, if at all so at times it feels like a collection of short stories. Especially as there are flashbacks to the Grandmothers past and how she ended up on a similar journey years ago.
However, I will confess this story had me in tears before the first 50 pages were over due to a character’s early demise – and it is an emotional story. I had initially picked it up thinking it was a light read – a little chick-lit but the setting of the Orient Express and Venice is just rich background for big emotional upheavals in many characters life’s at different points. By the end they have all made big choices and while we are left unaware of how these choices will affect each person, there is some satisfaction in knowing things do change.
While the beginning and middle was stronger for me, this is a wonderful holiday read with a pleasing balance between romance, family relations and the impact the past can have on the future. Like a champagne breakfast, this should be savoured and enjoyed until the last crumb.
Recommended for fans of Erica James and Kate Mosse. 8 out of 10