Book Review: The Sailor From Casablanca by Charline Malaval

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers Hodder and Stroughton for a free copy of this book  in exchange for an honest review.

Sailor from casablancaThe Sailor from Casablanca is a story that straddles between two different times; 1940  and 2005. In 1936, Guillaume, a young vibrant man joins the French Navy as a gateway to fulfil his desire to travel and experience the world despite his parents’ concerns. In 1940, Hitler strikes and the whole of Europe is in a turmoil. At the same time, Guillaume and his mates are in Casablanca where their ship is berthed. The unthinkable happens when an explosion occurs and destroys the ship with almost everyone in it. At the time of this horrid event, Guillaume is on that ship. When the news of his death reaches his family in France, they are devastated and with the threat of  war looming closer, this could be the worst time of their lives.


In 2005, modern day Casablanca,  Loubna is a young women with a deep love for the cinema and dreams to open one of her own. In the course of working towards this goal, she stumbles into some information that sparks her curiosity towards her unknown family history. As she digs deeper, she discovers more than she could have ever imagined about her grandfather, his escapades and his questionable death.

 This book is two genres in one – Historical and contemporary fiction. First, I loved the fact that the book allowed me to relate with each of the main characters directly as each chapter featured a different character. This allowed the story to be seen from several views and added more suspense to the story.

Secondly, the back story on how the second world war started was a great history lesson especially as it was told from the perspective of the French. Also, learning about the culture and people of Casablanca in the 1940s and in 2005 was a welcome addition. Since it was all new to me, I was really captivated. I might just visit Casablanca soon!

summer spot

Modern day Casablanca, Morocco

The character I empathized with the most was Helene. I felt her pain and anguish and wished things had turned out differently. The other characters though some were colorful, were either too flawed or not strong enough for my liking.

What I didn’t like about this story was how it all ended without a clear conclusion. I also got tired of the characters repeatedly saying the same things over and over. It made it little bit boring at some point to read but because of the mystery behind the story, I forged on. I feel this story had a potential to be better than it turned out to be but it is what it is.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading this story. The mystery around Guillaume’s death was captivating and this held me bound until I was finished. Despite the unsatisfactory end, I will recommend it to lovers of historical fiction and mystery. Congratulations to the author on her debut.

Rating: 3 Stars

Expected Publication Date: June 18, 2020 by Hodder and Stroughton

Pages: 400

Genre: Historical Fiction

The Author: Charline Malaval was born in Limoges in 1984, and grew up in Correze, south-western France. Having worked in Brazil, Mauritius, Bulgaria and Vanuatu, she now teaches at the French Lycee in Riga. The Sailor from Casablanca is her first novel.



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