In 1920s Rio de Janeiro, Cristina Abramov keeps her head above water supporting her ailing Mother, by working as a pianist. When her path crosses with wealthy American Robert Laughton, Cristina glimpses a very different world, but one that has more connections to her past than she realises…
Finding Cristina is a delightful book; fast-moving, thrilling in parts and heart-warming in others. 1920s Rio is brought vividly to life, the wealth of period and cultural detail has been meticulously researched to ensure the reader is fully immersed. However, although set in Rio, the cast of characters hail from all different countries and each of their respective cultures are subtly yet authentically realised.
The opening immediately draws the reader; the prose is wonderfully descriptive, giving the impression of warmth and light before hints of conflict are dropped like breadcrumbs. Cristina is immediately likeable and the chemistry between her and Robert crackles from their very first meeting. It’s never overplayed, subtle but with an undeniable electricity and physical attraction.
Robert is pitched just right and Maria, as Cristina’s confidante, is nicely used to drive the action forward when needed. Desiree, Robert’s cousin, is also instrumental in moving the narrative but does become a little stagey, in parts. Daniel has sinister feel about him from the beginning and although this is developed, I think it could have been taken even further.
Finding Cristina capably straddles the genres of romance, historical fiction and thriller and does so with a deceptively light-hearted touch. Although the main thrust of the plot is life-changing, Finding Cristina is never weighed down in complexity, and everything bounces along in a good-natured, easy to read style. A factor that contributes to the readability of the novel is the dialogue; it’s very natural, believable and flows easily and convincingly.
Occasionally, the plot could use a tighter construct but the passion that is clearly present in the writing shines through infectiously, enabling the reader to overlook a couple of structural issues.
Finding Cristina is a charming and captivating little novel that is thoroughly enjoyable to read and I look forward to the sequel. Highly recommended.