cover image The Daughter’s Tale

The Daughter’s Tale

Armando Lucas Correa. Atria, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5011-8793-3

Impossible choices faced by loving parents lie at the heart of this underwhelming tale by Correa (The German Girl). The story opens in New York City in 2015, when the elderly Elise Duval receives a phone call from a strange woman who had recently been in Cuba and found some letters that belong to Elise. The narrative then jumps back to Berlin, starting in 1933 and continuing through 1947 in France. After Julius Sternberg, a Jewish doctor, dies in a prison camp, his wife Amanda carries out his wishes that the rest of the family leave Germany. The plan is for their two daughters, four-year-old Lina and five-year-old Viera, to live in Cuba with an uncle. Unable to secure the necessary travel documents to accompany them, Amanda will go to an old friend, Claire Duval, in France until it’s safe to bring the girls back. At the last minute, Amanda decides Lina is too young to go and sends Viera alone. Amanda and Lina’s new life in Haute-Vienne with Claire and her daughter, Danielle, turns dangerous when WWII erupts and the Germans arrive in France. Lina and Danielle hide out in an abbey, but in 1944, the Germans come looking for weapons and one of their missing soldiers. While Correa convincingly evokes the perils of occupied France, his characters rarely move beyond being one-dimensional, and the hasty conclusion about how the war ended for Viera and Lina is unsatisfying. Readers interested in WWII fiction have plenty of better options elsewhere. (May)