Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Unravelled by M.K. Tod

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: France Book Tours
Read: November 5, 2013

In October 1935, Edward Jamieson's memories of war and a passionate love affair resurface when an invitation to a WWI memorial ceremony arrives. Though reluctant to visit the scenes of horror he has spent years trying to forget, Edward succumbs to the unlikely possibility of discovering what happened to Helene Noisette, the woman he once pledged to marry. Travelling through the French countryside with his wife Ann, Edward sees nothing but reminders of war. After a chance encounter with Helene at the dedication ceremony, Edward's past puts his present life in jeopardy. When WWII erupts a few years later, Edward is quickly caught up in the world of training espionage agents, while Ann counsels grieving women and copes with the daily threats facing those she loves. And once again, secrets and war threaten the bonds of marriage. With events unfolding in Canada, France and England, UNRAVELLED is a compelling novel of love, duty and sacrifice set amongst the turmoil of two world wars.

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There is a saying in the armed forces, that if the military had wanted you to have a family, they'd have issued you one. I used to think it a funny turn of phrase, but that was before married the marine corps. No matter the branch or position, there is always a degree of distance, a no-man's land you learn to avoid, to dance around and ignore.

Author M.K. Tod took this concept and ran with it, building a narrative around this tiny grain of truth and amplifying it through fiction. The result? Unravelled. The story of a man, a woman and their struggle to live by their promise to love, honor and obey. 

Personally, I loved how emotionally authentic this piece feels. Though set during the first half of the twentieth century, some things don't change and having witnessed couples face the challenges brought by absence, infidelity, post traumatic stress and lack of communication firsthand, I really appreciated Tod's delicate, but honest handling of the material. 

Another thing I liked about this piece was how balanced it felt. Ann at home vs. Edward on the front lines. The comfort he enjoys in Helene's arms vs. the security she finds with Richard. Even the conflicts, WWI vs. WWII, everything is double-sided and multilayered. This creative approach allowed Tod to explore the concepts of love and marriage in various capacities through diverse situations set on multiple backdrops which is a rather ingenious approach when you stop and think about it.

Those who follow my reviews know I am usually drawn to the history incorporated into the fabric of any given title and while I was impressed the period detail of Tod's work, it was the emotional aspect of the piece that captured my attention. An undeniably beautiful story, Unravelled illustrates the complex nature of relationships tested by distance both physical and psychological in a compelling and captivating historical saga.

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As husband and wife, their journey together had times of joy and comfort, pain and sadness - a seesaw life of ups and downs, estrangement and togetherness. What is marriage but discovery? she thought. Of self, of man and woman, of another being whose strengths and imperfections are exposed to a microscope of proximity.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Erin … many thanks for your lovely review. I truly appreciate the time you've taken to read and report on Unravelled. I am particularly touched that someone like you with experience of a military home has enjoyed the story and the messages I tried to convey.
With warm wishes for you and your reading!
M.K. Tod