Forbidden Places by Penny Vincenzi
Forbidden Places is about love and marriage, families and secrets, and about wartime and what it does to every accepted social value. It is a story of three women and one family.
One is married and widowed within five years. She is free to start again. Or is she? The second has a perfect husband she thinks she loves. He becomes a grotesque parody of what he once was. Is that real love? The third becomes trapped in a nightmare marriage. Can the war free her?
Review by Brittany:
I'm a huge fan of Vincenzi, and this one didn't disappoint.
As is the author's trademark, this novel focuses primarily on one family, the Bennetts, an upper class British family into which Grace marries. Grace is of a lower class, a situation that causes her some issues throughout the marriage. Florence, Grace's sister-in-law, and Clarissa, a good friend of the Bennetts, serve as the other two main characters in this novel. I love how Vincenzi takes many different characters and puts the focus on all of them, making the reader get emotionally attached to them all. I was drawn in to each woman's life and had genuine feelings about what would happen to them.
This book takes place primarily during World War II, a time period that I love to read about. With the men gone, the women work toward learning how to run the world on their own. They also all struggle with wanting to serve a purpose and play a part in the war effort, sometimes in opposition of what their husbands want. Vincenzi does well with illustrating how complex of a time that must have been.
While there are definite traits of Vincenzi's that are clear in this book, I was surprised by how hoard some it was to read. There is domestic violence, miscarriages, adultery, and a near rape sprinkled throughout the book. Some parts were incredibly difficult to read about, more so than in previous novels I've read. This book also seemed to be a bit more sexually graphic than other novels by this author. That being said, I didn't feel that any of this took away from the novel.
Overall, this is another fantastic novel by this author. I was pulled into the story and emotionally attached to all of the characters that Vincenzi wrote about. If you like this time period or are already a fan of Vincenzi, definitely pick this one up.
Her nervousness, her anxiety had vanished in the sunshine, in the carefree extravagance of her day; she wished she could stay for longer, safe from reality.
"...I don't like this," and she meant not just the parting from one another, but the way their lives had parted too, and he understood while pretending he did not...
It was all very well at the moment, everyone being matey - or pretending to be - with everyone else, but it was a false situation, a false premise.
...thinking even as she spoke how horribly easy it was to sort other people's lives out, to find simple answers, how impossible to do that to your own.
The changes in her over the past few years had been profound. She really hardly knew who she was at all any more. And certainly not who she was supposed to be.