Perhaps this review is a bit biased because I feel as if I've just read the same book twice. I started this book just after finishing Still Life with Bread Crumbs, a book I didn't much care for. Unfortunately, this book seemed like the exact same novel, set in a separate location and time period. Both novels revolve around a woman who lives in a city who has just hit a slump of some kind in her art career, in this case writers block about the topic for the main character's second book, in the other it was a decrease in recognition and respect for her photography. Additionally, for one reason or another the main character has been displaced from her home (it was destroyed during the London Blitz in this novel and in Still Life the main could no longer afford the rent on her apartment.) As a result of this de facto homelessness and in an effort to repair her artistic troubles, the main character ventures out of the city and into a rural area where she meets locals who seem happier with their more simplistic lives. From the locals she learns to have a new lease on life, in the process finding a charge (a child or a dog) from a woman who has died and a beau who was somehow tied to the dead woman. Her art that comes as a result of her new home is critically acclaimed, but she doesn't return to her city life, instead she stays with her new friends who truly understand life.
This all feels like neo-Romantic bullshit, as I said in my review of Still Life. I hated it the first time and having to go through it twice in a row just made the whole process that much more painful. I know I shouldn't have picked up this book to begin with given my typical aversion to anything set around WWII, but I had such high hopes since it was an epistolary novel, something I normally adore. Even that wasn't enough to save this, though, and I felt the whole thing was excruciating. All my criticism of Still Life is still there with none of the benefit of the main character being compelling. I will say, though, that I was pleased to see a depiction of a queer character in a period novel. That was quite nice.