The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix– 336 pages
When Jessica regains consciousness in a French hospital on the day after the Paris attacks, all she can think of is fleeing the site of the horror she survived. But Patrick, the steadfast friend who hasn’t left her side, urges her to reconsider her decision. Worn down by his insistence, she reluctantly agrees to follow through with the trip they’d planned before the tragedy. During a stop at a country flea market, Jessica finds a faded document concealed in an antique. As new friends help her to translate the archaic French, they uncover the story of Adeline Baillard, a young woman who lived centuries before–her faith condemned, her life endangered, her community decimated by the Huguenot persecution.
Determined to learn the Baillard family’s fate, Jessica retraces their flight from France to England, spurred on by a need she doesn’t understand.
Could this stranger who lived three hundred years before hold the key to Jessica’s survival?
My Review: 4 stars
The Space Between Words could be about anything, right? I had absolutely no clue what this book was about; I just knew that I loved the title. It’s poetic and vacant and vast all at the same time. Of course it came as a surprise that this book was about the Paris terror attacks from 2015 and a parallel story line about the horrific persecution of the protestant Huguenots.
Before I go any further, I admit that I had to Google the definition of a Huguenot. This part of history was new to me so of course I wished there was a bit more of in that part of the dual storyline. The author’s ability to connect the Paris attacks and the Huguenot’s plight was brilliant. Using PTSD and the powerful emotions that encompass survival such as guilt, sadness and anger was the perfect link.
Although the writing was a bit simplistic, it didn’t bother me as I was thoroughly invested in the characters. This book also spoke to the history of antiques and those who “pick” (as done on American Pickers TV show). Every piece left behind has a story and on rare occurrence does that story come to the surface. Certainly, being fiction, the background behind the sewing box (that spoke to our main character) came more quickly and easily than it would have in reality. The power of story is a major theme throughout the book and really speaks to what the title suggests.
This book has a lot of Christian religious undertones as well as an unearthly awareness/presence. It took me to the Parisian countryside and I adored that. With the Paris terror attacks being just 2 years ago, this book is written with sensitivity and respect to all the survived and all that were lost.
Quotes I liked:
Story is sacred, insurgent in its power to unravel tangled roots.”
-“Endure with courage, resist with wisdom, and persist in faith.”
-“Story is sacred.”
-“We can’t understand the present-much less make better decisions for the future-if we don’t acknowledge the good, bad, and ugly of the past.”