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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Dieppe Crossing by Betty L McLane-Iles is an intense and searching story of family, love, connections, and serendipity that draws readers into a world where everything, it seems, is linked and little is left to happenstance. When Jena Cohn, a lost and slightly disillusioned middle-aged woman, is undertaking her regular pilgrimage back to France on the cross-channel ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, she slips at the guardrail and almost falls into the churning English Channel. She is saved from falling by a mysterious and enigmatic Frenchwoman who drags her back to safety. The relationship that develops between the pair introduces Jena to a tangled mix of familial relationships that date right back to the First World War but more specifically focus on the resistance movement against the rise of Franco in Spain, the Spanish Civil War, and the efforts of Basque separatists and terrorists in the 60s and 70s.
Dieppe Crossing is a beautifully constructed novel that will have lovers of the English language and its subtleties and nuances wrapped in its warm embrace. Betty L McLane-Iles has a turn of descriptive, poetic prose that sings to the heart of lovers of the language. What particularly struck me about this story is the wonderful manner in which the author was able to link the events of several decades and generations yet still keep the reader completely cognizant of what was taking place. The story of the Spanish Civil War and the atrocities committed by Franco and his minions on the resistance is horrifying and disturbing but, through it all, the characters rise above the turmoil to continue the fight for freedom. Jena Cohn is a fascinating protagonist who is searching for some meaning and purpose in her life beyond alcohol, and the serendipitous nature of her interactions with the woman who saved her were the highlights of the story for me. This is a deep, thoughtful, and meaningful read and one that I can highly recommend.