Cover Image: The Sailor from Casablanca

The Sailor from Casablanca

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Member Reviews

i really enjoyed the mystery elements in the book and found the characters to be interesting and fully developed. I look forward to more from the author.
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18 year old Guillame was out to conquer the world when he set forth on his travels and landed in Casablance. Sadly cut off in his prime by an explosion that was the end and the year was 1940.

Fast forward to 2005 and the discovery of a whole lot of love letters leads to the surprising conclusion that Guillame could very well be alive and with one of his many girl friends. 

Each chapter is told by someone who is trying to unearth the mystery of Guillame but none by himself so that he remains fairly enigmatic throughout.

A mix of genres which added to the interest - lots of actual history, then family stories and romance as well.
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This book includes realistic characters and an engaging plot. The greatest strength of this novel is its thoughtful and detailed descriptions of the locales in the story. The action alternates among characters and also past and present day. This is a fun and engaging read, recommended for book groups and discussions.

I received this novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed here are entirely my own.
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Set in World War II in Morocco, the tale begins with the lives, and loves of Guillame and Felix - two sailors in the Navy who become firm friends.  When their ship explodes, Felix is given the task of breaking the news of Guillames death to his family.

Sixty five years later in 2005, Loubna dreams of opening her own cinema and after a flippant remark from a potential investor - she starts digging into her family's history to find out who exactly her father, and grandfather (Guillame) were.  Aided by her friend, Anis he manages to "borrow" letters from the navy archives that hints that Guillame was either a traitor or a deserter, and even the possibility that he didn't die in the explosion.

Flipping between 1940 explaining the effects of Guillames death on his family members and friends and 2005 with Loubna searching her history, this tale is of love and desperation, 

The book was a little slow starting and you do need to persevere with it, although the ending was still a little disappointing.   A good read though
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I volunteered to read this book, through netgalley in exchange, for an honest review. This book is well written and the characters are described well. The way the author describes Casablanca, Morroco it makes me want to visit that country. Guillaume is my absolute favorite character and I adore Felix's character. It talks about how families feel when they lose a loved one far to young to the war. I enjoyed how it goes from the past then to modern day Morroco.  This book is in stores now for $9.99 (GBP).
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Casablanca in world war 2 is a heady setting, full of exotic intrique. Did he die a hero or a traitor, or was it more complex? A story told through many eyes, and different times, so it doesn't answer all the questions, and is not the smoothest of reads. If you don't know anything about 1930s films, some of the references don't mean much. Was the author sacrificing story to try and be literary?
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I've just finished The Sailor from Casablanca.  I wasn't  sure at the beginning but I stuck with it and I'm so pleased I did.  Telling the story from many different angles is a stroke of genius.  I was intrigued to find out what happened to The Sailor from Casablanca!
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If you like a dangling denouement, then you might enjoy this story. I prefer to have everything neatly resolved without questions still standing.

I was disappointed with this story, which had so much potential and could have been so much better and perhaps even longer. And I loved the cover. 

I found the first third to be quite hard-going and had to start it twice to maintain my interest. I found the multiple viewpoints confusing and also repetitive when Felix and the Straubs all go over the same events. And the continuity was lacking in places. 

For example, when Felix turns up we have Mrs Straub collapsing to the floor and howling, yet only a few paragraphs later, Felix is amazed at how dignified both Straubs were and the most that Mrs Straub did, during two versions of the event, was let out a strangled cry.

There is a big difference between falling to the floor howling and merely letting out a strangled cry.

Then we move to Casablanca and when Loubna and Ali are on the roof of a building in the very early hours of the morning, they are blinded by the sunlight reflecting off the white building opposite. Then again, only a few paragraphs later, they are sitting in darkness watching the dawn creep across the sky.

Was the sun already up, or wasn't it?

And then, one or two incorrect translations should have been picked up by a good editor or proofreader.

The middle third was much better, by which time I'd got into the rhythm of the different viewpoints and timelines. It built up the mystery and subterfuge as well as bringing out the character of Guillaume, and I thoroughly enjoyed the way that wartime Casablanca was brought to life. 

The final third felt quite rushed with new players suddenly introduced in the Moroccan business moguls. And then, after all of his/her hard work and loyalty at staying the course, the reader is left dangling. 

We don't know what happened to several characters, we never went back to the Somme region, we never returned to Loubna's dream building, and there are too many loose ends.

Finally, the title is also a bit of a misnomer in that the sailor wasn't from Casablanca at all. He was merely stationed there. I would have ignored this had there not been so many other things that disappointed me.

And so, as a reader, I felt cheated in that I'd put in all of this work, struggled to get through much of it, only to not receive due reward at the end.  But I did enjoy being taken through the various locations.
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I really struggled with this.
With too many people telling the story it felt disjointed.
I found it very difficult to relate to the characters.
This was not for me.
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I enjoyed this book especially the way that it moved from one time period to another.  An interesting read, recommended.
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Thank you to Netgalley, Charline Malaval and Hodder & Stoughton for this ARC in return for my honest review. I have to say, the cover is off-putting and when I was invited to read this novel, I was dubious as I thought it wouldn't be for me.  However, I'm delighted that I read it as it's a completely different book that I had first thought. I really enjoyed this one and would recommend. Perfect for fans of Dinah Jeffries and Fiona Valpy.
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I really enjoyed this book, it was a great read and perfect for me at the moment. I dived into it and read it very quickly as I found it so interesting. I love this type of book as having parents who lived and fought in the war and suffered greatly I am interested in this era.
This was something a little different which always makes a great change. Would certainly enjoy more from this author.
My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
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I enjoyed this book and found the subject matter very interesting. I would recommend this book to those readers who enjoy reading this genre.
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This story is a cute novel that covers the unraveling of a family secret over multiple generations  in Casablanca and France. The descriptions of Casablanca and the surrounding area had me itching to visit (and rewatch Casablanca!). 

The story is told in mostly chronological order following two timelines, one in 1940 and one in 2005. The problem is that there are too many narrators to keep the story going. It also tries to be too many things. Is it a cozy historical mystery? Is it a story of romance during wartime? Is it an examination of the psychological effects on people who live through war? It tries to do everything and in doing so, only manages to sort-of achieve any of them.

After reading the description of the book, I was expecting an exciting war-time mystery, a whodunnit of "who is Guillaume? Is he alive?". What I got instead was a quick read that slowly reveals the story piece by piece, until the final section that left me confused about the lack of communication among the family members and sad for his mother.
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I like the dual time line we get in The Sailor from Casablanca-1940s and 2005, which I graduated in 2005 so reading it in a novel had me like Whoa, it really was a long time ago! A young, vibrant man named Guillaume joins  the French Navy as a way to fulfill his yearning to travel. While Guillaume is in Casablanca where his ship is docked, Hitler strikes. An explosion happens killing everyone on the ship.

Modern day Casablanca, 2005, Loubna is a young women with a deep love for the cinema and dreams to open one of her own. This story is really about Loubna discovering some information that leads to her digging deeper into the life of her grandfather and his questionable death. 
I liked the pacing of this book. It held my attention the entire time. I really loved the way both characters were written in a way that you easily care about both-one time line didn't overshadow the other in my opinion. I wish things for Helene would have happened differently but for the story's sake-I get it. Overall, a really good read.
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A solid piece of writing and a somewhat interesting story, yet it failed to charm me.
I think the first problem is that not much(mystery wise) happens until about the 65% mark. I found very clever they way Malaval built Guillaume's character in his absence. Letters, other character's thoughts and stories, revealing not only Guillaume but also his life up until his disappearance. But no matter how clever, it is not very engaging for the reader who keeps wondering what is all about and then why all the delay in actually revealing more about the core story.
The last part of the book is a classic case of "building up my family's history" that sadly does not shed light on Guillaume's faith. And this is the second problem. The reader goes through so much, puts up with all that slow built up for in the end not to receive his/her reward. I personally am fed up with clear-cut ends and from that point of view the open ending of this novel was more than welcome. But as I've said, I don't think is going to work for the average reader because you do need some solid answers to help you forget how slow it was to get to 'solution' of the mystery.
All being said, I've enjoyed the snippets of WW2 on a different front than the every present European one. It was also nice to read all the details about Casablanca, and why not the old silent movies.
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This was a lovely book to read and ingest in one go. I love the flipping between present and past, i love the storytelling and vivid pictures it created in my head as i read it. If you’re a fan of historical fiction that focuses on the characters and personal development you’ll love this.
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I feel like the past is always more exciting as well as more sordid when one is exploring their own family history. What an adventure, this book was!
The setting was a major bonus as it was off the beaten path of most historical fiction these days.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me the opportunity to read this ARC!
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I loved the idea of this book. The story is gripping and a good read. I liked going back and forward between the 2 timelines. I thought that it was interesting and worth reading. I think that this is a 3 1/2 star read and I have rounded it up to 4 stars. 

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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Part historical fiction, part contemporary and part mystery I found myself completely absorbed in this book, set mainly in Casablanca in  the years between the 1930’s and 40’s and the present day.
This is the story of Guillaume, a sailor who is in active service when war breaks out and his family and sweetheart are left behind in France. When an explosion aboard ship takes the lives of so many, Guillaume is presumed dead. But with no body found, rumours become rife concerning his true identity. Is he a deserter or a spy or simply a casualty of war? That is the question that many years later Loubna is desperate to discover,  having come into possession of a suitcase full of love letters sent to the charismatic sailor. I loved how these letters offered us an insight into this colourful, larger than life character who it transpires was a real ladies man, certainly a sailor with a girl in every port!  His exuberance and love of life shone through the pages and if nothing else I thought he was an intriguing character. In unravelling the mystery behind the man, maybe Loubna will find Guillaume is more than just the sum of his conquests.
The timeline switches back and forth between multiple narrators that range from Guillaume’s mother and father and sister to his childhood sweetheart, lover and best friend(I think I’ve remembered them all!!) I loved the fact just enough information was divulged by each person before switching to another narrator, thereby ensuring I was fully engaged with the storyline. Surprisingly we never hear first hand from Guillaume, instead learning of his life aboard ship via his best friend Felix but perhaps that is a deliberate ploy to encourage further mystery surrounding a man who seems to have taken on legendary status. If the author had treated us to his perspective I think that would have been a real eye opener. 
Having never visited Morocco or Casablanca, I did feel the author managed to bring the setting alive, albeit mostly from a sailor’s perspective! In that sense, the novel is atmospheric enough for the reader to imagine themselves in the streets and the cinemas and the red light district. With plenty of film references added in, at the very least it made me want to watch Casablanca, if not to wish I could visit the place sometime soon. 
It was refreshing to hear about the wartime experience from another country’s perspective . Whilst  the ways in which war affects people are similar, I enjoyed hearing from Helene and Lucien their first hand experiences. It is Helene who deserves our sympathies since her story highlights the devastating effect of losing a son and how that splinters the family as a whole, having to learn to make a life around a gaping person shaped hole.  I would agree with other reviews that perhaps we don’t get an in depth insight into some of the characters lives which normally would frustrate me but for reasons I can’t pinpoint I didn’t mind on this occasion. I think I was too swept up in Loubna’s quest to uncover her family’s history.
In my opinion The Sailor from Casablanca would be an ideal book as an introduction into historical fiction for readers who wouldn’t normally choose this genre. With the added bonus of romance and mystery, this is one of the easiest yet most intriguing novels I’ve read in a while. I found the mystery element of this book fascinating;it was like searching for the missing pieces of a complex jigsaw puzzle and  like Loubna I was desperate to discover the true person beyond that of Guillaume the lady killer. 
All the way through I was thinking yes this is definitely a five star read for me but I’m still undecided how I feel about the conclusion. Having not been able to turn the pages fast enough, it kind of fizzled out so I was left feeling disappointed that this was the last I’d hear from these characters  ( the book does feel very short but maybe that’s my misconception ). I found the final pages puzzling and I needed to re read some of the paragraphs to make sense of the ending. All minor criticisms and no doubt I may regret giving this 4.5 stars rather than 5.
Overall I think this was a cracking good read, thoroughly enjoyable and my thanks go to Hodder and Stoughton for the invitation to read this title.
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