Thank you to Putnam for sending the final book in this series featuring the Schuyler sisters. Along the Infinite Sea was a shining bright spot in a sea of slumpy reads for me lately, so thank you ever so much for sending me a copy. And, I have to also say, I think I enjoyed this one far more than its predecessor, Tiny Little Thing. While I exclaimed about the fantastic sophistication of the story in Tiny Little Thing, Along the Infinite Sea treats us to a great storyline, especially the one with one of the main characters – Annabelle. Her story has this great little mystery to it, with some twists and turns that do leave you guessing a bit until the very end.
Tiny’s younger sister, Pepper Schuyler features in this one. We left Tiny and Pepper at the end of Tiny Little Thing as they were restoring a rare and vintage Mercedes roadster, found in a shed on their family’s estate. This is where Pepper also discovers she is pregnant with a married senator’s baby, the man she was having an affair with before fleeing to her family’s home in Cape Cod. Now, in Along the Infinite Sea, she has motored off into hiding with the Mercedes, put it up on auction and sold it for a healthy sum. Her plan is to use this money to help set her up nicely while she’s on her own.
The woman that buys the car is the mysterious and glamourous Annabelle Dommerich. Annabelle tells Pepper the Mercedes has a very special place in her heart, it was the car she fled Germany in. Annabelle doesn’t just hand over the money however, and walk out of Pepper’s life, instead she whisks Pepper off to her home by the coast so she can hideout, and escape the menacing presence of the senator’s goons hired to track her down to keep her silent. She tells Pepper that she found herself in a similar situation around the same age, so wants to help Pepper. The story switches back and forth beginning in 1966 Palm Beach (Pepper) to 1935 Paris (Annabelle). The meatier story here is definitely Annabelle’s in 1935 Paris. She meets two men on the same evening, at a party at her father’s house, the (suspected Nazi) Herr Johann von Kleist and the Jewish playboy, Stefan Silverman. Stefan has been shot and Annabelle nurses him back to life on board his yacht named Isolde. During his recovery, Stefan and Annabelle conduct a passionate affair (and like The Secret Life of Violet Grant, it is too over-described and too passionate for my personal taste, but it’s easy enough to skim over) but it falls apart when Annabelle discovers that Stefan is married and has also disappeared without any explanation. Thinking he is putting her in his past, she accepts the attentions of Herr von Kleist and marries him soon after discovering her own unexpected pregnancy.
As mentioned above, the storyline with Annabelle is the far stronger and the more compelling one here. Pepper’s storyline does fade a little into the background, but it does not in any way take away from how compelling the story is, and how much I wanted to continue reading. Once I picked up Along the Infinite Sea, it was very hard to put down. The story with Annabelle, Stefan and Johann continues to build and it turns into one that includes a daring escape from Nazi Germany. But, in the end, who truly was Annabelle’s husband at the time of his passing in 1966? She has fled Germany in that Mercedes she has just purchased from Pepper, but how and with whom? (Is it Stefan? Johann?) Annabelle only says that her husband has recently passed away and the details of her children are that they are a blended mix from her, her husband and them together. In Pepper’s storyline, we also meet Annabelle’s eldest son – the child she became pregnant with Stefan. With all kinds of twists, turns and adventure, we reach the end and discover which man Annabelle means as the her husband, the one she says she loved dearly, and also the identity of the person that she has been seeking since his passing.
In Along the Infinite Sea, we are treated to this great little mystery, excellent multiple storylines and overall this is a very exciting and compelling read. Definitely my favourite in this series! I did take some points away because of my well-known-by-now dislike for the heavy handed details describing le sex. :-) There was plenty of it in the Stefan and Annabelle storyline (!) and some in the Annabelle and Johann one. Tiny Little Thing was by far the more sophisticated story because of its absence of hot and heavy passion, but I think I enjoyed Along the Infinite Sea even more! Both however are fantastic and come highly recommended by me. Along the Infinite Sea earns nearly 4.5 stars.