Two things saved this book for me: Vivien and the twist at the end. If not for that I was fully prepared to give this book 2 stars and be done with it.
For starters, 480 pages is way too long for a mystery novel. Even if this is a historical fiction mystery (although there was't nearly as much history in it as I'd have liked for I love myself a good war story!) - it was just way too drawn out.
Take it from Agatha Christie, the mystery queen herself, a good mystery doesn't and shouldn't be longer than 350 pages.
This would have worked out so much better just as a war time story about love and jealousy - not a mystery, because surprisingly the way the mystery was solved was the most annoying component in this book.
For starters Laurel was an immersive bore of a character and I couldn't wait to get on other people's points of view. For so many pages given to the character development she wasn't developed at all - so much time was spent on her but she was merely a tool for the mystery solving and a not very good one at that.
The way the clues came to her (ohhh look all of those people kept journals and they still exist, how convenient ) and how she kept guessing correctly every time about how the story went all of those years ago - I couldn't help but roll my eyes, it was so not believable! She's not a detective, and she's definitely no Sherlock Holmes so having her just guess and piece all of the things together was very cheesy and quite frankly, annoying.
When reading pages set in 2011 I kept thinking "hurry up hurry up" for I just wanted to get on with the plot but Laurel kept rambling on and on about nothing at all. That said I loved all of the parts set in 1941 - Vivien, Jimmy and Doll and also their childhood stories were very well put together and I enjoyed every page of it. It almost feels like 2011 and 1941 were written by different people.
Despite Doll being the most horrible human being on earth, and Jimmy not being the brightest at times when it counted, and despite the long wait to actually uncover the whole of Vivien's story it was still so enjoyable. I only wish there was more scenery to it, because the war wasn't depicted very much in this - just bombings here and there, food rationing and orphans in the hospital - there just wasn't enough of a war atmosphere for me.
I don't think I will read more of Morton, I looked at her other books and they all are 600+ pages behemoths. And if I thought that 480 pages was drawn out I can't even imagine what I would think of a mystery novel that's 600+ long. Because unless it's epic fantasy I honestly don't have time for books that big.
Freelance BETA reader.