Toggenburg – by Michaela Francis

ToggenburgI read this book while I was at CenterParcs with the family. The accommodation has no internet access so I was not distracted by emails or web browsing, which is a good job since the book is incredibly long. Neither the Amazon website nor the kindle edition list the number of pages but it took me 19hrs to read whereas a ‘normal’ book takes me 3-4.
I realised as I was reading that I knew very little about Switzerland other than they have part of the Alps, they make excellent time pieces, their railways run on time, they stayed neutral during WWII and there was a huge fuss about stolen Nazi treasure in numbered Swiss bank accounts. Well I certainly know a lot more now!

The most appalling thing I learnt was that some Swiss Cantons did not give women the vote until 1990, and the earliest was about 1970. Seriously Switzerland WTF!
I’m not quite sure why I loved the book but I was just riveted. I’ve done quite a bit of hill walking and mountain climbing in the UK and really enjoyed the descriptions of the scenery and the natural history. The characters were all likeable too – well the ones living in the Toggenburg anyway. Sarah’s parents and fiancé were awful, obviously, being the antagonists. Her mother was a bit of a caricature, I thought, which was a pity as she was one of the only English characters. I thought making the baddie English was an American trope 😦 Sarah and Danni were a bit too good to be true really but they were so sweet I couldn’t help liking them. Sarah’s trip into town to look at girls in order to establish if she was actually a lesbian was so funny. However, Sarah’s refusal to put her foot down and say no did get a bit frustrating. I sympathised with Frau Fritzl’s wish to give her a good smack. Talking of smacking, one of the reviews on Amazon says the author has ‘serious spanking issues’. For a modern, ‘vanilla’ book it does mention spanking a lot, which I found funny, but it’s all just threats with no action.
I actually borrowed the book on kindle unlimited but I liked it so much that I actually bought a copy. The end of the book says ‘to be continued’ but it doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger. I hope Michaela does writes a sequel because I’d love to read more.

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