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The Sailor from Casablanca, Charline Malaval
Thanks to NetGalley and to Hodder & Stoughton for an advance copy of The Sailor from Casablanca by Charline Malaval.
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.