This is the second book I’ve read by Marc Levy (the first was PS From Paris), and it probably won’t be the last! I guess I’d call the genre romance, but that’s only for lack of a better category. Maybe literary fiction is closer, because romance is certainly not the main focus throughout.
The story follows Alice, a 39-year old British woman from the 1950s just after the Blitz and the end of the war. She makes perfumes by trade, and lives next door to Doldry, a cantankerous painter who covets her flat because of her skylight. She’s known her group of mixed gender best friends from childhood. One night they go to a carnival, and one of her friends dares her to visit the fortune teller. The fortune teller informs her that the man who will be the most important in her life was walking right behind her that night, but she would have to meet six other men first, before she would find him–and the journey would take her to Istanbul, the city of her birth. Alice scoffs, knowing for certain that she is a British citizen–but she can’t get the idea out of her mind.
As she mulls this over, she develops an unlikely friendship with Doldry, the painter next door. He comes into an inheritance, and decides to take Alice to Istanbul on a quest for the man of her dreams… intending to leave her there and use her flat while she’s gone.
It’s an odd, delightful, circuitous, and unexpected story. I wouldn’t call it a romance, mostly because for most of the book I didn’t know who the romantic hero would be. Much of it centers on the mystery of Alice’s birth, though she does have a few romantic semi-entanglements along the way. But the ending is satisfying and sweet.
My rating: ****