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  • Soul Searing and Healing

    Laure is the proprietor of a unique museum in Paris. Instead of historical paraphernalia, the museum displays personal items, each one the symbol of a broken promise. But Laure has experienced her own broken promises, which she isn't ready to face. Told in three time periods, this story follows Laure from her early twenties in communist Prague through her thirties in Berlin and her forties in modern day Paris. The Museum of Broken Promises is a heartfelt and emotive walk through a devastating period in European history, and the deep scars which that era left on it's people and it's culture. This book does a beautiful job of tracing the evolution of youth through adulthood, and innocent naivety to a sharp and unrelenting understanding of the harsh realities of life. Young Laure has so many life-changing and impactful moments, I enjoyed the all too familiar feeling of melded joy and pain as she looked back at the moments of magic and pure youthful delight, moments which could never come again. The relationships created in this book are both diverse and realistically complex, which gives Laure's story added credibility. The social and political climates the reader is invited to experience are so all-consuming, and the individuals who exist between these pages have been through so much fear, trial and suppression. Their motives are often difficult to understand with the time and political change that separates us, but each character is painstakingly rendered to reflect the everyday pressures and social complexities. As I began reading this book, I didn't think I liked it. Each chapter carried me forward into a story I didn't find, on the surface, to be that interesting. I found the writing very odd, and had to check multiple times that the book was not translated, because so many of the word choices and sentence structures confused me. As I continued however, I began to feel for the characters in this book and to be intrigued by the era which happened so shortly before I was born. By the time I was three quarters of the way through, I found that I was hooked. I was with Laure, desperately wanting to know what had become of Tomas and their dearly beloved friends. Even the writing began to make more sense, and I now wonder if the author is actually incredibly clever at writing multi-lingual characters as they would truly speak and think. There were a few moments which I found to be a little out of place, in which it felt like the author was trying to narrate with the grit of a Swedish crime writer, but only remembered every once in a while. I can't put my finger on exactly what was wrong, it just seemed that there were a few scenes that didn't fit the rest of the narrative as they should have. As a whole, The Museum of Broken Promises is an intelligently written and emotionally searing journey. With true to life characters and a slow but consistent pace, you will walk through this story in Laure's shoes and see her world unfold around you.

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  • The Vlatka

    This is a deceptive book as the initial chapters lead you to believe that the bulk of the story will take place within The Museum of Broken Promises in Paris. The reader is already aware there is a backstory for Laure, after all the prologue makes this abundantly clear. What the reader is not initially aware of is that the backstory is the actual story and that rather than employ a flashback technique to the story the author has made it more of a flashforward to the present day with the majority of the tale being set in late 1980s Czechoslovakia. Somehow this left me feeling almost cheated - the title of the novel, the opening chapters, all drew me in to this world and I found myself becoming captivated by the museum and it's strange collection of artifacts. Unfortunately, little time is spent here. Despite having been very much alive and fairly cognisant of the world during the time period this novel is set, I found myself having little knowledge of the communist world. I was aware of East Berlin, I was aware of the cold war might of the USSR, but I had only the vaguest notion that Czechoslovakia was part of it all. It does feel strange now that Prague, the main setting for this book, is now such a popular city break location and yet has such a dark and tainted past - a past that will be all too real for a high proportion of it's current residents. Despite the author's best efforts I never felt that I got to understand our main protagonist, Laure Carlyle. Somehow she remains fairly ephemeral on the page and this prevented me from really managing to stir up any concern for her or to hope that there would be some happiness in her future. I was intrigued by her host family and the way they interacted with each other and her - Petr and Eva have such a peculiar relationship and the nature of Eva's "illness" is never explained, leaving the reader with more questions than answers (undoubtedly this is deliberate). I also found Laure's naivety hard to cope with. Yes, she is young. Yes, she is hurting after the loss of her father. Yes, she seems to have been sheltered in her upbringing and have no idea how the world can betray you. Fairly normal for a girl just out of her teenage years and stepping in to adulthood but what could have been seen as touching merely served to irritate me. The older, museum curator Laure is a slightly more intriguing character having been forged through her experiences but she still has an almost childlike wonder to her that I found grating. This novel was not what I expected. Normally, this is something I tout as a good thing. However, in this case I feel slightly like a victim of a bait and switch. It started so well and I understand the need to explain Laure's backstory and how the museum came in to being. However, I just couldn't get invested in her Prague experiences or her Berlin experiences (which are mercifully brief) and as Prague is good 70% of the book that kind of spoilt it for me.

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  • Memorable & Haunting

    Wonderful and haunting, this is the story of Laure and her time in Prague in the 1980's. Even though I know little about this period in history, this book really appealed to me and I’m so pleased that I gave it a go. There were two reasons why I knew I wanted to read this novel – the first, because I knew from past experience that Elizabeth Buchan is a talented and accomplished story-teller. The second was because the concept of a museum dedicated to artefacts which represent loss, grief and broken promises was really fascinating. Laure now lives in Paris and is the curator of the Museum of Broken Promises, a place where people bring items that reflect a promise which was made to them but was then broken. Through these artefacts and via interviews with a journalist, the reader starts to learn about Laure's past and the circumstances that have led her to this point in her life. The writing is beautiful and the story memorable and noteworthy and I'm certain that this is one of those books that will remain with me. I recommend The Museum of Broken Promises, without hesitation, to anyone who is partial to historical or literary fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Corvus via NetGalley at my own request. This review is my own unbiased opinion. Thank you also to Pigeonhole and Elizabeth Buchan for giving me the opportunity to read this book!

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  • Fast read

    Culturally and historically fascinating love story i could not fail to be invested in. Fast read as a result.

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