Title: The Museum of Broken Promises
Author: Elizabeth Buchan
Published: 2nd of April 2020 – Corvus
Format: Ebook – 416 pages
Hello Hello! How are you?
I can’t believe it’s the end of April already. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my reading tally for the month, I’m still a few books away from what I had planned, but I’m going to concentrate on finishing my last two books for the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon before the month is up. I’ve got just under 2 days to read 900 pages, do you think I can do it?
Today I have another #RandomThingsTours organised by the lovely Anne Cater. I was quite intrigued by this book when I got the email about its tour in my inbox. I do love historical fiction, but I usually read historical fiction novels set further in the past, so I was really interested in reading this book, set half in present-day Paris, and the other half in Prague in 1985 when Communism was in full swing. Thank you to Anne for letting me take part in this tour and for sending me the book. All opinions are my own.
Paris, today. The Museum of Broken Promises is a place of wonder and sadness, hope and loss. Every object in the museum has been donated – a cake tin, a wedding veil, a baby’s shoe. And each represent a moment of grief or terrible betrayal. The museum is a place where people come to speak to the ghosts of the past and, sometimes, to lay them to rest. Laure, the owner and curator, has also hidden artefacts from her own painful youth amongst the objects on display.
Prague, 1985. Recovering from the sudden death of her father, Laure flees to Prague. But life behind the Iron Curtain is a complex thing: drab and grey yet charged with danger. Laure cannot begin to comprehend the dark, political currents that run beneath the surface of this communist city. Until that is, she meets a young dissident musician. Her love for him will have terrible and unforeseen consequences. It is only years later, having created the museum, that Laure can make finally face up to her past and celebrate the passionate love which has directed her life.
The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan is a standalone historical fiction novel, set half in the present-day, in Paris where Laure is the curator of the museum of broken promises, a museum where people bring in items that have caused them grief or pain and portray a broken promise. The second part of this storyline is set both in Prague in the 1980s and Berlin in the 1990s and portrays a very political backdrop in a rebellious country.
I was very eager to get to this book this month because it sounded very interesting. I do read a lot of historical fiction, but I’ve never read anything set after the 1960s and I also don’t know much about the Communist regime in Eastern countries and the aftermath of the destruction of the Berlin Wall. I thought that the author did a good job with all the historical elements, it did feel very much like what I would imagine and I really liked how she brought the different rebellious elements of the plotline to show both sides of the story in away.
I have to say that I did prefer reading the present-day part of this story just because of the different elements we got to see in the museum. I also really enjoyed the parts of the story where May was trying to get information about Laure’s past and it gave me more of an insight into her real feelings. I think one of the main things that I didn’t love in this book was the fact that, with the strong character lead, I was really expecting this book to be very character-driven. I was expecting to get all the feels and to really identify to Laure, to get her backstory, and to feel pity or sadness for her. But as the book went along, I was able to see that it was actually a lot more plot-driven, even though I sometimes got the impression that nothing much was happening and time was standing still.
I have to say that I was expecting more from this book, but I did enjoy learning about the museum and the different stories about the items in the museum. I think I got much more of a feel of the story and the characters’ lives from these items, even though most were not linked to them than I did from the rest of the plot.
I thought that Laure had the potential to be a really great character in this story, but it felt like she had no emotions and was blocking or denying them, so the story felt quite impersonal to me. I did enjoy seeing her working in the museum and also seeing the difference in her personality and character at different times in this story, be it in Prague, Berlin, or Paris. I never really got a feel for her age, so I struggled a bit with her character because of the vagueness surrounding her.
I did enjoy the setting of Prague though and I thought that all the times that Laure went to the marionette show and to the different rock concerts or gatherings, we got a lot more of a feel of her character and the people around her. I did like her relationship with Tomas, but again, I did find it a bit lacking. I would really have liked to see more characters in this story because it felt like the ones who were there, were quite far away from the events.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, I did enjoy this book, but I would have liked a bit more emotion and personality from the characters. Towards the middle of this book, the story changed a bit, but I did feel like it dragged slightly towards the end.
I gave this book 3.5 stars because although it was a good book and I can definitely see it being loved by many, it just wasn’t the book for me. I’m not really a fan of reading mundane, day-to-day events in this book and it was just a bit too much for me to process. I really wanted to love this book, but there was quite a lot of political language and themes and it did wear on me by the end.
I would recommend this book to people who like quite a bit of a political angle in books, more of a mundane, day-to-day plot, and stories about the past and history of the various countries it is set in.
Thank you so much to Anne and Elizabeth for letting me take part in this tour and for sending me the book.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post, wish me luck for finishing my April TBR! See you soon, stay safe,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – ELIZABETH BUCHAN
Elizabeth Buchan was a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full time. Her novels include the prizewinning Consider the Lily, international bestseller Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, and The New Mrs. Clifton. Buchan’s short stories are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in magazines. She reviews for the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail, and she has chaired the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliot literary prizes.
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Audible FR (affiliate link) – Amazon US – Waterstones – Audible UK – Kobo