Review: The Swiss Affair by Emylia Hall

20140403-223359.jpg I have such a list of books to read and review that sometimes I gingerly open a book expecting – but hoping not – that it will be drudgery. And so it was with The Swiss Affair. I had prolonged it so many weeks that I created false bias in my mind: probably historical fiction, I know nothing about Switzerland, there better not be spousal cheating going on, etc, etc, etc.

I was in for the surprise of my life. The Swiss Affair is so many things, wrapped up in beautiful language, distinct and varying characters, and set upon wintery white Lausanne, Switzerland.

While reading, I felt like I WAS Hadley, young British innocent. I was brought back to my university days, with eyes wide and bright, seeing more in people than may have truly been there…. A time and place where anything was possible, adventure abounded, and I lived for luxuriating in every moment.

“There’s a phrase in French, you know … Il faut profiter. It means ‘make the most of it’ … But it’s more than that. It’s about… luxuriating in a moment.”

So there’s the coming of age bit.

Then, the affair. The forbidden romance. The love story. It’s not perfect, but I love it all the more because it isn’t. And really there are three affairs – Hadley’s, Hadley’s friend Kristina’s, and the love affair with Lausanne – all worthwhile, and all bittersweet.

And there’s a murder mystery woven in The Swiss Affair. Lucky for Hadley she befriends a former detective novelist who wants to help her solve it. It’s well done with a few twists and turns, but nothing you can’t guess if you put your mind to it.

There’s skiing. There’s cognac and whiskey and beer. Hugs. Friends. And lots of snow. Walks amongst snowflakes — alone or together or in a large party. Wonder. Awe. And sadness. Guilty, heart-wrenching, lonely sadness.

I don’t remember reading anything that comes close to the well-roundedness of The Swiss Affair. It’s romance, tragedy, mystery, drama, chick lit, new adult, adventure, and literary fiction all rolled into one. It’s dark and it’s bright. And it’s dark again. And even though I’d always tell you I prefer a happily ever after, I appreciate that this ending isn’t. This ending is teary for the reader but full of new beginnings for Hadley and Henri.