Meri Vaarsara had a dream and something to prove. She also had incredibly bad fortune and even worse timing.
Her dream was to become a famous fashion designer in Paris, a dream born from a need to prove herself worthy of love and a happy life, something her stern Finnish mother never fostered but her seafaring father always knew was hers for the taking. So at the tender age of sixteen, Meri left the security of her family and her home for a country where she didn’t speak the language and she didn’t know a soul.
Paris in the late 1920s was not friendly to immigrants, even those with extraordinary talents. Forced to find work as a domestic, Meri forged ahead through turns of fate and misfortune as Paris braced for Hitler’s invasion. By choice, Meri becomes a single mother caring for her half-Jewish daughter throughout the occupation of France. Once the war was over, she used her feminine wiles to find her way to America, the land of milk and honey, with the hope of finally being able to work as a designer in a New York fashion house. But that too was not to be, until fate and a kind stranger stepped in to help.
Review: Never turn back is a remarkable historical fiction inspired by tales of Lorna’s grandmother. One cannot tell apart the fact from the fiction as we follow the path of one woman’s incredible journey in life from when she sets her sight towards France with the aspirations of becoming a seamstress and working her way up in the fashion industry to how she changes from being a naive teenager and young adult to a woman who learns, pretty much the hard way, how to deal with the harsh realities of life becoming a very mature person if still not a rather vulnerable one.
The main part of this story is when Meri lives in France. Lorna does a great job of presenting us with a brand new perspective of what life was like for the French people during the Nazi German Occupation. The persecution of those who were of Jewish origin, the fears of treachery even in one’s own household, and constant worrying of what may happen next. It’s something I never really thought of and could never have imagined.
Lorna’s tale grips the reader from the beginning and doesn’t disappoint as it draws one in deeper and deeper all the way. It is an extremely well-written work and in all honesty, I cannot fault it, in the least. This is a five-star work for me.