As retired physician Lettie Louw looks back upon her life, she recounts her coming of age in WWII-era South Africa in this compelling story of delayed love, loss, and reconciliation.
Lettie Louw is the daughter of the town physician in their South African village. She spends her childhood in the warm African days playing with her friends and being adored by her doting parents. When she becomes a teenager, she experiences her first taste of unrequited romantic love in the form of her best friend’s older brother, De Wet Fourie. When De Wet pursues the beautiful and wealthy Annabelle, Lettie’s dreams are crushed, and she moves to Johannesburg to pursue her studies in medicine.
Life in Johannesburg feels strange to Lettie, and the world around her is in profound upheaval as the Second World War rages. Her feelings for De Wet never waver, and Lettie is heartbroken when he marries another of her childhood friends. Lettie soon meets Marco Romanelli, an Italian immigrant, and they marry and raise two daughters, as the racial and political tensions in South Africa swirl about them.
Lettie never forgets her first love, even as the ravages of time, war, and illness play upon her life and the lives of those she loves. In their later years, Lettie and De Wet are thrown into one another’s company again, and they are given another chance at a life together.
Find Irma Online
I had hit a stalemate in my quest for an inspirational historical romance that would digress from the tried and true and push me out my comfort zone in terms of setting and character arc. The Crooked Path found its way on to my bookshelf and immediately enticed me with its promise of new landscapes and the scope of time covered.
A story of unrequited love, crisis of identity and worth, tragedy and loss all set against the backdrop of pre- to post-WWII, The Crooked Path grounds itself in human experience and resiliency. Whether following Marco’s youth and hardship in Italy or Letti’s coming of age in South Africa, there is a beckoning to the reader to draw closer and feel. When the two plots converge and Marco and Lettie’s love story takes centre stage, the story reaches new depths and reveals complexities that give the pacing a second wind to carry it through to the end.
The Crooked Path is too layered to be classified solely as a love story. It exposes the racial tensions of the era whilst delving into the horrendous circumstances and consequences of war. While the synopsis may lead readers to believe that Lettie and Marco’s love is the end game, the story does not conclude with their happily ever after (but I shall stop here for fear of spoiling).
The Crooked Path is recommended to readers who are looking for a story that challenges and beguiles, that defies the archetypes.
**Disclosure: Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**