Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Swiss Affair by Emylia Hall

Review based on ARC.

I was intrigued by this book because of the description:  "For Hadley Dunn, life has been predictable and uneventful. But that is before she spends her second year of college abroad in Lausanne, a glamorous Swiss city on the shores of Lake Geneva. Lausanne is imbued with the boundless sense of freedom Hadley has been seeking, and it is here she meets Kristina, a beautiful but mysterious Danish girl. The two bond quickly, but as the first snows of winter arrive, tragedy strikes." (from BookReporter.com)

So, Switzerland, new perspective and adventure, friendship, and then a mystery.  Sounds great!

And, you know? It was.  Hall did a really impressive job of bringing her characters to life - every one of them.  From sweet and innocent Hadley to brash and fun Kristina to deep and brooding Joel to all the peripheral characters.  SO much brought to life, in fact, that when the tragedy did strike, I was actually affected by it.  My husband asked why I was so sad... I had to explain about the book. ;)

Hadley is a simple girl, living with her parents still, in a smallish town in England.  She decides to apply for a study abroad program and goes to Lausanne, Switzerland to spend her 2nd year of college (University).  There, she meets the exotic and full-of-life Kristina, who quickly becomes Hadley's best friend.  She also meets Joel, her American Literature professor, a charismatic and dark personality that she is drawn to.  And she meets Hugo, an elderly man who frequents a fancy hotel cafe and who imparts love, hope, and wisdom onto Hadley.

And then, yes, tragedy strikes (and heck no, I won't ruin it by stating what the tragedy is).  And Hadley sets out to discover the truth about what happened, how, and about herself.  It's a sort of growing-up novel, a sort of love affair novel, and a sort of mystery novel, all neatly wrapped into one.

In my opinion, the biggest downside to the novel (and it's not such a big downside :)) is that the romantic tension and lovey-dovey portion were a little run-of-the-mill in the midst of the rest of the excitement.  Hall did such an impressive job bringing Lausanne to live, bringing her characters to life, bringing Hadley's obsession to life... and yet the romance was flat and uninteresting (to me).  It served a purpose to moving certain aspects of the plot forward, but mostly I was just eager to get back to the real story.  As I said, it's not such a big downside -- I appreciated Hall's tact in her presentation of the love affair (not "affair" in that sense -- I just mean "a happening"), that she didn't resort to cheap tricks in the bedroom, and the scenes were soft and romantic... just wasn't my favorite part of the book.

Overall, I definitely recommend to readers -- those who want to visit Lausanne, if only in their minds, those who have romantic notions about life and love, those who want to venture with Hadley as she discovers "the truth."

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