It’s 1937 and Violet Bell requests that granddaughters Clara and Maddie Sommers come to the family estate in East Hampton, N.Y. As the matriarch is ill, her dying wish is for the two sisters, who are very different and don’t care much for one another, to travel to Europe together and deliver three letters of farewell. Adventurous Maddie, is ready to go but Clara is planning her wedding and has no desire to leave her fiancée Charles Hancock. She ultimately gives in and the two sisters board the Queen Mary for a trip not only designed to bring closure for Violet but also to bring the two sisters together. The trip takes them to Paris, Venice and Vienna. It is the golden age of travel with the sisters experiencing the most luxurious modes of transportation of the period. In addition to the ocean liner, they travel on the Orient Express with a return trip home planned on the Hindenburg.
While there is growing tension and concern throughout Europe over the rise of the Nazis, world events are a small part of Three Words for Goodbye, with the focus on the sisters. Maddie wants to become a journalist, emulating her idol Nellie Bly, who was a friend of the family. Clara starts to wonder if her seemingly perfect future with Charles is what she truly wants. The journey give the sisters a chance to reconcile as the letters they deliver will reveal family secrets long kept hidden.
Writers Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb have written their own engaging novels and also write historical fiction together. (Meet Me in Monaco was their second novel.) Their latest book is centered on family, love and forgiveness. It’s an appealing escape filled with engaging characters, a touch of romance, picturesque settings and interesting modes of travel.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: July 27, 2021.
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