Survivor by Lesley Pearse

Published in February 2014 by Michael Joseph.

“It is 1938 and Mariette Carrera is a defiant, strong-willed and selfish eighteen-year-old. And sooner or later, if she stays in the small, gossipy town of Russell, New Zealand, she’ll get herself into some serious trouble. Her doting parents, Belle and Etienne, fear for her reputation. So, with the world on the brink of war, Mari leaves home on the SS Rimutaka, bound for her aunt and uncle’s house in London. 

Armed with the freedom she’s longed for since childhood, Mari quickly falls for Morgan, the handsome cockney steward on board ship. But once she reaches London, there are other temptations.

Mari loves her new life – caught up in a whirl of dances and parties in the glittering West End, relishing her freedom as she earns her own money as a typist. Finally, she feels she is mistress of her own future.

Until it is all snatched away by the war.

As London endures the Blitz, Mari’s new life is cruelly blown apart. Forced from her loving new home, she ends up alone in the East End, and it’s worlds away from the London she knows. But there, even in the face of so much despair, she finds the chance to make a difference. Amidst the destruction, Mari learns that the only way to survive this war is to fight, with all the strength, selflessness and compassion within her…and only then will she find true happiness.

Because Mari is a survivor…”


Firstly I’d like to thank ED Public Relations for sending me this book to read and give an honest review.  I previously read and reviewed Forgive Me by the same author and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was looking forward to getting stuck in.  When I found out that this was the third book in the author’s Belle series I was concerned because I hadn’t read the first two books.  I needn’t have worried because this worked very well as a standalone read, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything at all.

It got off to an exciting start, even at eleven-years-old Mariette was a strong-willed, confident character and I was interested to see what kind of dramas she would find herself in as a result of her personality.  I have to admit that I found it rather difficult to warm to her at the beginning, she is definitely a character who grows on you though and by the end I had taken her and her story to my heart.

When Mariette headed to London I felt a mixture of emotions, I was excited for her but also very nervous as she was so young and clearly quite adventurous.  Even the journey to Europe turned out to be eventful and at that point I just knew I was in for a twisty, turny read!  There were simply so many things this book had to offer – romance, heartbreak, intrigue, temptation, tragedy, mystery, and love. The author captured Mariette’s growth beautifully, she went from being a rather selfish teenager to a compassionate, strong woman.  It was this that made Survivor so enthralling for me.

I also enjoyed the relaxed feeling I got from reading this book (something that is much-needed when you’re 7 months pregnant). The writing style was very natural and comfortable even through some of the more difficult moments and this made it an easy book to read.

This was another lovely read from Lesley Pearse, an emotional roller-coaster!


One of the Top 5 bestselling female fiction authors in the UK, Lesley’s colourful life – from hanging out in 1960’s London club-land; to bunny girl; to nursery worker and gift shop owner – meant she was a latecomer to writing and her debut novel, Georgia, was published in her late forties.

A true storyteller and a master of gripping storylines, there is no set formula for a Lesley Pearse novel although strong heroines and difficult circumstances are pervasive. Whether historical adventures such as Gypsy or Never Look Back or the passionately emotive Trust Me, based on the true life scandal of British child migrants sent to Australia in the post war, Lesley is inspired by stories of courage and adversity and often gives voice to women lost in history. She is passionate about her research and her stories have taken her far and wide; from Alaska to the Crimea. Lesley lives between Bristol and Bath and has three daughters and three grandchildren.

A fantastic speaker and committed and passionate fundraiser for the NSPCC, Lesley is a much sought after guest at literary lunches, library events and festivals up and down the country throughout the year.

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