The Sweetheart Locket
A gripping and emotional WW2 page turner
by Jen Gilroy
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Pub Date 17 Mar 2022 | Archive Date Not set
'A story that will linger in your heart long after you finish it' MAISIE THOMAS
'I laughed and cried .... I loved this book and heartily recommend it' FIVE STARS
'The Sweetheart Locket is a moving dual timeline story about love, loss and secrets' FIVE STARS
What if the key to your present lies in the past?
On the eve of the Second World War, Canadian Maggie Wyndham defies her family and stays in England to do her bit for the war effort. Torn between two countries, two men and living a life of lies working for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Maggie's RAF sweetheart locket is part of who she is...and who she isn't.
San Francisco, 2019
Over twenty years after Maggie's death, her daughter Millie and granddaughter Willow take a DNA test that's supposed to be a bit of fun but instead yields unexpected results. Willow has always treasured her grandmother's sweetheart locket, both family heirloom and a symbol of her grandparents' love story. But now she doesn't know what to believe. She embarks on a search for the truth, one she doesn't know will reveal far more about herself...
A gripping and heart-breaking dual timeline novel about love, loss and buried secrets, The Sweetheart Locket is perfect for fans of Lorna Cook, Rachel Hore and Suzanne Kelman.
Readers are loving The Sweetheart Locket!
'A book that I enjoyed and brought tears to my eyes' FIVE STARS
'It was heartwarming and made me feel some powerful emotions' FIVE STARS
'This book has everything. There is romance, intrigue, history and mystery' FIVE STARS
'A well-written story with characters drawn so realistically and likeable' FIVE STARS
'A journey I'm grateful for having the opportunity to experience' FIVE STARS
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 28 members
For me this book has everything. There is romance, intrigue, history and mystery. It follows the story of Willow who lives in San Francisco but was originally from England. The results of the DNA test that her cousin gets everyone to do throws up lots of questions and Willow starts to question who she really is. The book is written from the viewpoint of Willow in the current day, and her Gran Maggie during World War 2. An emotive story that flowed really well without any confusion jumping from one era to another. It answered questions along the way. It was very interesting reading about the role of women in the war and especially the Special Operations Executive ( SOE ) where many put their lives at risk to save others. The characters were realistic and likeable and I really felt for Maggie.
Thank you to Jen Gilroy, Netgalley and Orion Dash for the opportunity to read this brilliant book in return for an honest review.
I love Jen Gilroy’s contemporary romances but this is her first foray into a dual timeline and I enjoyed it just as much. It was refreshing to have a modern main character who isn’t British and it brought an interesting take to the way the story was told, for example Willow’s lack of assumed knowledge about her grandmother’s World War Two story.
Her grandmother, Maggie, wasn’t British either but a Canadian who decided to stay in England to help fight the Nazi threat rather than go home, and this added an extra layer too. Her initial sense of isolation meant that she forged strong bonds and the stories of her closest friends’ wars were skilfully wound through her own, making the novel all the more compelling.
Although there are romances running through each timeline, other important relationships are explored. Willow’s difficult one with her mother Millie added depth to the story and for me it was one of the most important to be resolved, and there was a beautiful echo in Millie’s relationship with Maggie too.
The choices that the women (and men) of each generation have to make are vivid yet relatable and once I had settled into the book I found it very hard to put down.
It takes just one decision, one incident for life to completely change. When you think back to what your options were and how different life would have been if you went with another decision, it is a bit scary to know that you probably would not have the people in your life that you do right now. A DNA test is what sets things in motion for Willow and in turn, her mother, Camilla Fox-Willoughby.
"In wartime, life sped up and was lived in snatches and you had to make the most of what you had, when you had it."
On the brink of war, Margaret Wyndham decides to stay back in England instead of going back home to Canada to do her part for the country. While she finds love on the way, the kind of life she had through the war is a secret to the world up until her grand-daughter, Willow, comes looking for family history about seven decades later.
What follows then is the unfurling of a great story of the women in war and their hardships along with how they had to cope with the consequences of war having had to live through it. Beyond languages, countries and religious beliefs, a story that connects generations of women and brings to light their life, The Sweetheart Locket is an amazing story seamlessly integrating fact and fiction. Alternating perspectives of Margaret during the war and Willow in the 21st century lends the best kind of closure that such stories can ever hope for.
Among multiple stark differences between the timelines, one that stood out was this: "The night was chilly and bright with stars. Bombing weather." We are truly lucky to be able to think of a moonlit night as beautiful or romantic as opposed to something destructive.
Thank you @netgalley for a complimentary advance copy. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
In San Francisco in 2019, Willow and her mother Millie take a DNA test that has baffling news. Willow travels to England to learn more about her grandmother's past, and the story of Maggie Wyndham starts to unfold. During World War II, Maggie fell in love with one man, and then another ... and did secret war work that put her life in danger. As Willow unfolds the story of Maggie's life, she finds her own life changing too ... with new purpose, new work, and even a new romance.
I wanted to read The Sweetheart Locket because of the World War II setting. I love novels from this time period.
This is a historical novel with a dual storyline. There is the story of Willow and her mother Millie in 2019, in both San Francisco (their home) and England (where Millie was born). There is also the story of Maggie, Millie's mother, beginning in 1939 in England. It is a complex story with lots of movement back and forth in time. Readers meet the three generations of women in the family and also Maggie's friends, and the men who are central to their lives.
I loved this book from the start -- both Maggie and Willow, the central characters, are so likable and have such interesting lives. Maggie's life is actually extraordinary, with Resistance work and a tangled personal life.
The Sweetheart Locket is an engrossing book - I barely put it down during the time I was reading it, and I planned my time around more reading! I really felt like I got to know the characters because they were so well drawn. The historical details were also beautifully told. I loved the way little haunting details from World War II would show up unexpectedly in present day life as well. Maggie's story - and the secrets of her life - was unveiled slowly through the course of the book.
I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. It is one of my favorite reads this year, and I plan to look for more books by this author.
In wartime, life sped up and was lived in snatches and you had to make the most of what you had, when you had it.
My mother says, “experience is what we call the accumulation of our mistakes.”
Her cousin was a young soul. Since childhood, Saffy had darted through life like a dragonfly in a summer meadow, landing in pleasant places and, apart from her parents’ tragic deaths which she’d been too young to remember, her way untouched by shadows.
Something the war had also taught her was that the truth wasn’t always best. Rather, it was elastic and sometimes you had to lie to save yourself and those you cared about.
Family wasn’t always the people you were connected to by blood, but also those who came into your life by chance and stayed by choice.
This was an absorbing, heart-rending, and intriguing dual-timeline and multiple POV narratives between family members in WWII England and modern times. The storylines were original, engaging, well contrived, historically and culturally accurate, and laced with modern-day family tensions and 1940's wartime dangers, and a sense of impending peril.
Unexpected revelations, family secrets, cultural concerns, clandestine operations, and identity issues were insightfully and thoughtfully explored in both timelines. I cared about the characters and was riddled with curiosity about what was to become of them.
The writing has emotive, perceptive, easy to fall into, and kept a smooth scroll of sharp visuals sparking across my gray matter. Ms. Gilroy is not only an agile storyteller but a wily one full of surprises.