Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye
Isobel fiercely mothered her sisters Chiara and Felicity when the three British girls were orphaned, not caring what the world thought. Now that her sisters are grown, she still doesn’t care about what the world thinks, but now she’s bull-headed about fascism. She thinks Franco, Hitler, and Mussolini will set the world back on its axis and clean things up. The book begins in Spain in 1936; the Spanish Civil War has forced her from her home. Isobel is married to a wealthy, conservative Spaniard who has deserted her without divorcing her. When an idealistic American shows up fighting for the Republic, she makes his life miserable before having to accept his help to escape being shot.
Chiara, the middle sister, is in London. She’s also falling for a spectacularly wrong man. He’s old enough to be her father, and everyone warns her that he’ll ruin her, leaving her unmarriageable. Felicity, the youngest, is in love with the most radical paramour of all: she’s determined to become a Carmelite nun.
I didn’t think I would like this book, and the first few pages didn’t persuade me otherwise. But then I was sucked in, and lost sleep over following the sisters’ lives. Gabriel is a solid writer who paints his story across a broad canvas of World War II Europe, with each woman’s personality complex, intelligent, and confounding. This fast-paced romantic saga is both compelling and suspenseful; the kind of book where you look up and realize it’s 2 a.m. with the alarm set to go off in four hours. I was grateful for a good old-fashioned story that swept me away in the fashion of Rosamunde Pilcher or Herman Wouk. Recommended with one caveat: I finished the book already longing for a sequel.