Catherine Green's Reviews > Affairs of the Heart

Affairs of the Heart by Borislava Borissova
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's review
Dec 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, romance
Read from December 16, 2011 to January 01, 2012

A Love in Time of War is set in Bulgaria and Turkey between 1915 and the 1930s. It is a rite of passage, about a young woman’s love for her family, and for the man she meets who is from a different culture, and an enemy country. Maria is highly educated and intelligent, but aged 18 she is still immature and naïve. She meets Mustafa, an older man who has experienced life on the front line of war. He is a highly ranking government ambassador, so he is careful and considerate in his actions. But he is also headstrong and vain, so when he wants something, he gets it. I am intrigued by the way this story is set out. We begin in the 1930s, and flash backwards and forwards as the story unfolds. It seems to be written almost like a memoir, and I like the short ‘chapters.’ It contains some beautiful descriptions, and although the language sometimes seems a little too modern or awkward for the period, it does seem to fit the tone. This is not a fairytale, it is a reflection on real life and true history. It almost brought me to tears at one point, because I became so involved in the love story of Maria and Mustafa, and all of their obstacles. Love is enduring but it doesn’t magically fix everything. Maria must obey her family and put on a brave face. Mustafa experiences battles of a different kind, and learns the harsh realities of love between enemies.

The Last Secrets of the Ancient Island is an addictive read about the lives of ordinary people. It is set in a town at the base of Mount Etna National Park, so it mixes historical significance with contemporary intrigue. The central characters are Michael and Kate. He is an architect and she is married. Unhappy with her husband, and trying to change her career from an unfulfilling one to something more creative, she becomes fairly selfish at this time, although she is basically a good person. Michael’s younger brother Ralph is searching for direction in his life. He seeks adventure and excitement, which adds intrigue to the story. There is teenage angst from Kate’s son and his friend. They too seek adventure and an escape from the control of their parents and the stifling familiarity of their home town. This story is a little muddled, and might have been an easier read if it was simplified. There are lots of deep themes about the meaning of love and friendship, including the selfish nature of humans and their emotions. Overall, I did enjoy it, and I couldn’t put this book down once I started reading. It does require concentration, however, to keep up with the fast pace and myriad of characters and sub plots.

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