One Moonlit Night by Rachel Hore

It is 1977 and Grace is waiting to meet someone in a London cafe, and we are tantalised by the mention of an unexpected letter that has sent shockwaves through her family. This is not a dual timeline story, so we won’t find out who Grace was waiting for until the end of the book, though you will probably have worked it out by then.

The action now switches back to 1941, and we learn how Maddie, along with her daughters Grace and Sarah, only just survives when a bomb destroys their house.  Her husband Philip is missing in action so, with nowhere else to go, they take refuge in his family home in Norfolk. Maddie knew nothing about Knyghton as Philip had not said much about his childhood.

Although One Moonlit Night is set during WW2, we only see what life was like in an isolated country community, far away from the dangers in the city. The story is told from the point of view of Maddie, along with chapters narrated by Philip telling how he is trying to find a way home. It is a perilous journey and we can only hope he will survive long enough to safely return.

Maddie is an unusual character for the time, a talented artist, who earns her living by illustrating children’s books. The characters are all well drawn and believable, the rural setting used to good effect, and the haunting atmosphere in the old house adds to the mystery surrounding Flora’s death and why nobody wants to talk about her.

It takes a while for the story to get going, but eventually I was hooked and wanted to find out what had happened all those years before. I read quite a few of Rachel Hore’s earlier books and was really impressed by her writing. While One Moonlit Night is not my favourite of her stories, I especially enjoyed reading about Philip’s journey to escape from Nazi-occupied France. Thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.