Review: Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs
Love and family. War and secrets. Betrayal and redemption.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs returns with a deeply emotional and atmospheric story that spans oceans and decades, from the present-day Delaware shore to the battlefields of WWII France.
Widowed by an unspeakable tragedy, Camille Palmer has made her peace with the past and settled into the quiet safety of life with her teenage daughter Julie in a sleepy coastal town. Then the arrival of a mysterious package breaks open the door to her family’s secret past. In uncovering a hidden history, Camille has no idea that she’s embarking on an adventure that will utterly transform her.
Camille, Julie, and Camille’s father return to the French town of his youth, sparking unexpected memories — recollections that will lead them back to the dark days of the Second World War. And it is in the stunning Provençal countryside that they will uncover their family’s surprising history.
While Provence offers answers about the past, it also holds the key to Camille’s future. Along the way, she meets a former naval officer who stirs a passion deep within her — a feeling that she thought she’d never experience again.
Map of the Heart was such as beautiful journey of life coming full circle. Happy to have had the opportunity to get a chance to read a novel by Susan Wiggs. This beautiful story weaved us through the past and present unlocking secrets, loss and breaking down the walls of the heart for love to finds its way.
Even though the plot of the story and how it evolved was wonderful, I always love the backstory of who the characters are. When there is pain or obstacles in life, it gives more heart to the book. I felt these characters brought more depth and authenticity to the experience because of what had happened to them. Seeing them strip down and find their truths independently and together through shared experiences, made them more interesting.
Camille, a widow who lost her husband, like so many shut down life. Through her grief, life sort of passed her by. Crippled by the way her husband died, trying to control her adventurous daughter’s life led to crippling her by trying to protect her from everything. Not only with her daughter but her own life.
Her fear of losing someone else just shut her out of moving forward and enjoying life. When a second chance at happiness passes through her life, she struggles with her fear unable to open heart. It is only through an ah-ha moment that we see her transform not only as a mother but also to the possibility of love was really nice.
Julie, her teenage daughter, once full of life and enjoyed every moment, found herself becoming more isolated. Not having the freedom to enjoy being young, care free and enjoy life, she slowly spirals into a place that she loses herself. This has caused her to lose self confidence which mostly has stemmed from being bullied but through her own grief she’s been oblivious to her the trajectory of change. When the opportunity comes to travel back to where her grandfather is from, such a nice evolution for her.
The heart of the book stems from one day when her father receives a parcel from where he grew up, there were several items from the past that sparked unanswered questions. Her father didn’t exactly have it easy growing up. In fact, his life was tough from the tainted deeds of his family’s past. Facing the past, all three embark on a journey they unravel a history that transforms all their lives, healing old wounds and bring closure to an unsettled past.
Overall, it was a wonderful read. I love the back and forth of the past and present perspectives in books like this. The characters, the story will grab you heart. Add this one to your book pile.