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Reviewed by Bethany Kelly
Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams is a wonderfully engaging novel set in two time periods and places: 1960s America and 1930s Europe. These two time periods focus on the stories of two women—Pepper and Annabelle—whose paths cross because of the sale of a vintage Mercedes.
Pepper is the type of woman who likes a good time. She loves to party and to flirt. She is both beautiful and intelligent and knows how to use it to her advantage. When she winds up pregnant with the child of a married Senator, she must figure out what it means to not only be a mother, but a single mother. Trying to make a little money and stay out of the public eye, she goes to her sister’s house and gets permission to restore a vintage Mercedes that was left behind by one of the previous owners.
This is where Annabelle comes in. She arranges to buy the restored vintage Mercedes, but when she does, she sees a piece of herself in Pepper and offers her refuge from the Senator and the goons he has sent to make Pepper give up her baby. After Pepper agrees to go with Annabelle, the novel goes back and forth between Pepper and Annabelle in 1960s America and flashbacks of Annabelle in Europe during World War II, until eventually Annabelle’s past and her present with Pepper collide. This is where I got the answers to the questions that I had formed in my mind throughout the novel, and where I was the most impressed with Williams’ creativity.
This novel kept me intrigued throughout its entirety. I read each page craving more and more information about both characters. There were many twists and turns that I never saw coming that made this book even more interesting.
The vintage Mercedes and both women’s past experiences were the threads that linked Annabelle and Pepper together. It was just enough of a link for it to make sense as to why Annabelle took Pepper in, but their lives weren’t so intertwined that their meeting and interest in one another felt fake.
Although the entirety of this novel was intriguing, I was most interested in Annabelle’s sections. I loved the idea of experiencing what different people went through during WWII. The various characters in the sections from 1930s Europe were impacted differently by the war based on their roles in society, and that made these parts of the novel very captivating. I also enjoyed reading about Annabelle’s love story and all of the trials and tribulations that she had to go through to be with her soulmate.
On the flip side of this, I wish that Williams would have made Pepper’s sections of the book more interesting. I was emotionally invested in Annabelle’s story, but not so much in Pepper’s.
All in all, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a good love story that is not only about romance and the good times in a relationship, but also about hardships and persevering through them to live ‘happily ever after.’
Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.