The novel takes place on Guernsey Island, which lies off the coast of England, and in World War 2 was occupied by the Germans. The islanders who did not evacuate soon were overwhelmed by the German soldiers, and during the next years suffered starvation, imprisonment, punishment, and many other indignities as an occupied island. This is just one part of the story.
Cat Rozier opens up the story by admitting to killing her friend Nic late one night during a fight on the cliffs. Nic went over the edge and Cat is the only witness. The town thinks Nic was drunk and fell to her death. Only Cat knows the truth, and she tells the story leading up to Nic's death and it is intertwined with the story of Emile Rozier, Cat's father. Emile is dead, but he dedicated his life to uncovering the real facts of the occupation of Guernsey Island in hopes of redeeming his brother Charlie's undeserving bad reputation from one act of stupidity during the Occupation.
Oh, it gets good! Cat is drawn into a friendship with Nic, who soon has Cat drinking, staying out late, and behaving badly. Nic is a nasty bit of work, and she has no trouble manipulating Cat into doing what she wants. Cat's story of before Nic's death, and the days following it are fascinating, and it all culminates with some explosive and surprising secrets that come to light as Cat reads her father's papers and starts to put things together. Secrets abound!
I enjoyed this novel--Cat is a kick. She feels guilty about what happened to Nic, but also realizes that it really came as no surprise, since so much death and destruction had happened on the Island. People have tried desperately to forget what happened during the Occupation, but it's 1985, and guilt, shame, and anger still linger in the residents.
This was certainly a book that twisted along a surprising path, leading to a cliff at the end. If you want to read a story that isn't all sweetness and nice, but shows the after effects of war on a group of people, then pick this up.